Antroquinonol A is not what it seems

23 December 2015 - Total synthesis

Baran 2015 Antroquinonol.PNGJust as easy as total synthesis was laid to rest in the last episode of this blog - sorry pointless, time to move on - The Baran lab this week makes a clear case to continue business as usual: total synthesis is important! Case at hand: what the hell is in Taiwanofungus camphoratus that makes it the fantastic medicinal mushroom that it is. Golden Biotech Corp has been certain the active ingredient is antroquinonol A and is currently running clinical trials. But is it? The Baran lab produced pure gram-scale (+)-antroquinonol A via classic total synthesis (Villaume et al. doi) and did some clinical laboratory trials of it's own. Main conclusion: antroquinonol A nor one of its main metabolites did show any antitumor activity.
In chemistry land these must be exiting times. If antroquinonol is not the active ingredient then what is? Dozens of chemistry labs must by now have joined a new race. Cancel all Christmas holidays!

With thanks to Fluorogrol for the alert (@Twitter)