Synthesis and biological evaluation of potential anti-cancer agents

  • Julie Simpson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The new technology of combinational chemistry has been introduced to pharmaceutical companies, improving and making more efficient the process of drug discovery. Automated combinatorial chemistry in the solution-phase has been used to prepare a large number of compounds of anti-cancer screening. A library of caffeic acid derivatives has been prepared by the Knoevenagel condensation of aldehyde and active methylene reagents. These products have been screened against two murine adenocarcinoma cell lines (MAC) which are generally refractive to standard cytotoxic agents. The target of anti-proliferative action was the 12- and 15-lipoxygenase enzymes upon which these tumour cell lines have been shown to be dependent for proliferation and metastasis. Compounds were compared to a standard lipoxygenase inhibitor and if found to be active anti-proliferative agents were tested for their general cytotoxicity and lipoxygenase inhibition.
A solid-phase bound catalyst, piperazinomethyl polystyrene, was devised and prepared for the improved generation of Knoevenagel condensation products. This piperazinomethyl polystyrene was compared to the traditional liquid catalyst, piperidine, and was found to reduce the amount of by-products formed during reaction and had the advantage of easy removal from the reaction. 13C NMR has been used to determine the E/Z stereochemistry of Knoevenagel condensation products.
Soluble polymers have been prepared containing different building blocks pendant to the polymer backbone. Aldehyde building blocks incorporated into the polymer structure have been subjected to the Knoevenagel condensation. Cleavage of the resultant pendant molecules has proved that soluble linear polymers have the potential to generate combinatorial mixtures of known composition for biological testing.
Novel catechol derivatives have been prepared by traditional solution-phase chemistry with the intention of transferring their synthesis to a solid-phase support. Catechol derivatives prepared were found to be active inhibitors of lipoxygenase. Soluble linear supports for the preparation of these active compounds were designed and tested. The aim was to develop a support suitable for the automated synthesis of libraries of catechol derivatives for biological screening.
Date of AwardMar 2000
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDavid C. Billington (Supervisor) & Dan Rathbone (Supervisor)


  • combinatorial
  • lipoxygenase
  • Knoevenagel
  • soluble
  • polymer

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