Synthetic Cephalotaxine Synthesis and New Anti-Cancer Compounds

Technology Description

Oregon State University is seeking a licensee for an improved method to synthesize chemotherapeutic Homoharringtonine (HHT) that overcomes the need to use plant derived cephalotaxine. The synthetic method provides a high yield of chemically synthesized cephalotaxine as an HHT precursor and also enables the synthesis of novel analogues of cephalotaxine, as well as derivative compounds made from cephalotaxine and its analogues. These new compounds provide an opportunity for chemotherapeutic drug discovery and development. This work is published as: Total Synthesis of (−)‐Cephalotaxine and (−)‐Homoharringtonine via Furan Oxidation–Transannular Mannich Cyclization (X. Ju, C. M. Beaudry, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2019, 58, 6752.)

Features & Benefits

  • New anticancer compounds
  • Improved synthesis of Homoharringtonine
  • Simple synthetic route with high chemical yield


  • Chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Possibility for new chemotherapeutic applications

Background of Invention

Omacetaxine/Homoharringtonine (HHT) is a chemotherapeutic that is prepared commercially by esterification of cephalotaxine and indicated for chronic myeloid leukemia. Early studies have also shown promise in treating myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myelogenous leukemia. Chemical syntheses of HHT has been reported; however, commercial HHT is still prepared from plant-derived cephalotaxine. There remains a need for improved chemical synthesis of cephalotaxine with high yields capable of eliminating reliance on plant based sources. New chemical synthetic routes may also provide novel compounds for drug discovery and development.


Patent Pending; available for exclusive or non-exclusive licensing



Patent Information:
Tech ID:
Joe Christison
Assistant Director, IP & Licensing
Oregon State University
Chris Beaudry
Xuan Ju
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