Article thumbnail

From artemisinin to new artemisinin antimalarials: Biosynthesis, extraction, old and new derivatives, stereochemistry and medicinal chemistry requirements

By RK Haynes


The artemisinin derivatives, dihydroartemisinin (DHA), artesunate, atemether and arteether, are currently used for treatment of malaria in artemisinin combination therapies (ACT) with longer half-life drugs. The demand is enormous - in 2005, the estimated global demand for one such ACT alone, artemether-lumifantrine, which constitutes about 70\% of all current clinically-used ACTs, is for 120 million adult treatment courses. At 0.5 gm of artemether per total dose regimen, the amount of artemisinin required is approximately 114 tons. This has placed substantial stress on total artemisinin supplies world-wide, and considerable attention is being focussed on enhancing availability of artemisinin by improvement in horticultural practice and extraction of artemisinin from Artemisia annua. Artemisinic acid, which also occurs in A. annua, can be converted into artemisinin and is the ultimate target of a biotechnological approach, which if successful, will augment artemisinin supply in the future. The conversion of artemisinin into the known arternisinin derivatives, and problems with the methods are critically reviewed. Some attention is paid to mechanistic aspects which clarify stereochemistry. The current artemisinins are by no means ideal drugs. Artesunate in particular is incompatible with basic quinolines by virtue of proton transfer, and has intrinsic chemical instability. At pH 1.2, conversion to DHA is rapid, with t(1/2) 26 min, and at pH 7.4, t(1/2) is about 10 hours. With a pK(a), of 4.6, over 99\% of artesunate will be ionized at pH 7.4, and thus uptake by passive diffusion from the intestinal tract will be minimal. Although a considerable effort has been vested in the search for new artemisinins, largely through functionalization of arternisinin at C-10, O-11 or at C-15 via artemisitene, or of DHA at C-10, deliberate enhancement of the `druggability' of artemisinins by reducing lipophilicity, which at the same time will attenuate the neurotoxicity characteristic of the current derivatives, and enhance absorption, by and large has not been considered. A review of the various types of newer derivatives is given together with a consideration of medicinal chemistry aspects

Topics: Artemisia annua, Artesunate, Dihydroartemisinin, Farnesyl pyrophophosphate, Fluorinated artemisinin derivatives
Year: 2006
DOI identifier: 10.2174/156802606776743129
OAI identifier:
Download PDF:
Sorry, we are unable to provide the full text but you may find it at the following location(s):
  • (external link)
  • (external link)
  • (external link)
  • (external link)
  • Suggested articles

    To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.