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The hydrophobicity of curcumin creates hurdle towards its use in the anticancer therapy. Herein, we synthesized a curcumin-doxorubicin conjugated cyclic peptide scaffold to improve the solubility of curcumin and create a conjugate containing two anticancer agents. A solid-phase Fmoc/tBu solid phase methodology was used to synthesize a cell-penetrating nuclear targeting peptide with free thiol and amine groups, which was coupled with the activated doxorubicin (Dox) and curcumin, affording Dox-peptide-curcumin conjugate (DPCC) (10). The antiproliferative activity of the conjugate was evaluated in human leukemia carcinoma cell (CCRF-CEM), human ovarian carcinoma cell (SKOV-3), and normal kidney cell line (LLCPK). Cyclic peptide-doxorubicin conjugate (7) and DPCC (10) did not inhibit the proliferation of normal kidney LLCPK cells after 72 h incubation, but were cytotoxic in CCRF-CEM (73% and 41%, respectively) and SKOV-3 (55% and 30%, respectively) cells under similar conditions, suggesting selectivity of these compounds towards cancer cells while Dox was cytotoxic (60- 79%) in all three cell lines under similar conditions.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Tetrahedron Letters. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version will subsequently be published in Tetrahedron Letters in 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.tetlet.2017.10.065

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