A novel approach to 3-oxo-γ-carbolines was worked out starting from methyl indol-2-ylacetate via a gramine derivative. After quaternization, ammonia and 4-methoxybenzylamine could be inserted giving appropriate 3-oxo-γ-carbolines. Condensation with 2-chlorobenzaldehyde under microwave irradiation gave a 4-(2-chlorobenzyl)-3-oxo-γ-carboline. N-methylation lead to a product with very promising antifungal and cytotoxic activities
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