Herein we report on the semisynthesis and biological evaluation of β-amino alcohol derivatives of the natural product totarol and other simple aromatic systems. All β-amino alcohol derivatives of totarol exhibited higher antiplasmodial activity than totarol [IC(50): 11.69 μM (K1, chloroquine and multi-drug resistant strain), and 11.78 μM (D10, chloroquine sensitive strain)]-12e was the most active [IC(50): 0.63 μM (K1), and 0.61 μM (D10)]. The phenyl and naphthyl β-amino alcohol derivatives were much less active than their corresponding totarol equivalents. The majority of the β-amino alcohol derivatives of totarol were more active against K1 than the D10 strains of Plasmodium falciparum, a trend similar to the inverse relationship observed with the established aryl-amino alcohol antimalarial mefloquine. Selected compounds were shown to affect erythrocyte morphology, inhibit erythrocyte invasion and trigger CQ accumulation.
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