, Volume 64, Issue 6, pp 782-786
Date: 21 Jan 2004

Transformation of artemisinin by Cunninghamella elegans

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Semi-synthetic derivatives of the anti-malarial drug artemisinin hold great promise in the search for an effective and economical treatment of chloroquine-resistant forms of malaria. Unfortunately, synthetic functionalization of the artemisinin skeleton is often tedious and/or impractical. We seek to utilize 7β-hydroxyartemisinin, obtained from microbial transformation, as a semi-synthetic precursor for the synthesis of novel 7β-substituted artemisinin anti-malarial agents. Here we employ liquid cultures of Cunninghamella elegans as a means for the rational and economical bioconversion of artemisinin to 7β-hydroxyartemisinin in 78.6% yield. In addition, there were three other bioconversion products: 7β-hydroxy-9α-artemisinin (6.0%), 4α-hydroxy-1-deoxoartemisinin (5.4%), and 6β-hydroxyartemisinin (6.5%).