Ro 42-1611 (arteflene), a new effective antimalarial: chemical structure and biological activity

Trop Med Parasitol. 1994 Sep;45(3):261-5.


The discovery of the natural peroxides qinghaosu (arteannuin A, artemisinin) (1) and yingzhaosu A (3) from traditional Chinese herbal medicines was a major advance in the search for new antimalarials (Fig. 1). Whereas qinghaosu can be produced from natural sources and has been well studied, yingzhaosu A has never been available for full evaluation as anti-malarial. We have designed a synthesis of the novel ring system present in yingzhaosu A, the 2,3-dioxabicyclo[3.3.1]nonane and prepared a series of yingzhaosu A analogues which were tested against Plasmodium berghei in mice. Structure-activity rules could be established and used for lead optimization. The best anti-malarial activity was observed for analogues having a keto group within the ring system and an aliphatic or aromatic lipophilic tail as ring substituent. The optimized analogues possessed activity comparable to qinghaosu. In spite of the presence of a peroxide ring, the new compounds were chemically stable against common reagents. In contrast to qinghaosu and its derivatives, they were also stable against hydrolytic decomposition and could therefore be expected to show improved pharmacokinetic properties. As one of the best compounds, Ro 42-1611 (arteflene) (26n, Fig. 2) was selected for detailed preclinical evaluation. Ro 42-1611 (arteflene) was found negative in a battery of mutagenicity tests. It had low acute toxicity after oral or subcutaneous administration. In a 4-week oral tolerance study in rats, doses of up to 400 mg/kg/day were well tolerated.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / chemistry*
  • Antimalarials / pharmacology*
  • Antimalarials / toxicity
  • Artemisinins*
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds / chemistry*
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds / toxicity
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds, Heterocyclic*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Malaria / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Peroxides / chemistry
  • Peroxides / pharmacology
  • Plasmodium berghei
  • Pregnancy
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Reproduction / drug effects
  • Styrenes / chemistry*
  • Styrenes / pharmacology*
  • Styrenes / toxicity
  • Time Factors


  • Antimalarials
  • Artemisinins
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds, Heterocyclic
  • Peroxides
  • Styrenes
  • arteflene