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Bracher, Franz; Tremmel, Tim (2017): From Lead to Drug Utilizing a Mannich Reaction: The Topotecan Story. In: Archiv der Pharmazie, Vol. 350, No. 7, e1600236
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Natural products are a rich source of bioactive compounds, and numerous natural compounds have found application in cancer chemotherapy. However, unfavorable physicochemical properties often prevent the use of the original natural product as a drug. A prominent example is camptothecin from the Chinese tree Camptotheca acuminata, which shows extraordinary cytotoxic activity based on a specific molecular mode of action (inhibition of human topoisomerase I). Due to its extremely poor solubility, the original natural product cannot be used as a drug. The marketed drug topotecan was developed from this lead structure by semi-synthesis utilizing a Mannich aminomethylation as the crucial step. In this review, the long-distance run leading to this drug and further perspectives are summarized.