Purdue University Graduate School
Kwaku_Kyei-Baffour_Thesis_final.pdf (9.34 MB)


Download (9.34 MB)
posted on 2019-05-15, 13:29 authored by Kwaku Kyei-BaffourKwaku Kyei-Baffour

Infectious diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, and plasmodium parasites are a huge global health problem which ultimately leads to millions of deaths annually. The emergence of strains that exhibit resistance to nearly every class of antimicrobial agents, and the inability to keep up with these resistance trends has brought to the fore the need for new therapeutic agents (antibacterial, antifungal, and antimalarial) with novel scaffolds and functionalities capable of targeting microbial resistance. A novel class of compounds featuring an aryl isonitrile moiety has been discovered that exhibits potent inhibitory activity against several clinically relevant strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Synthesis, structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies, and biological investigations have led to lead molecules that exhibit anti-MRSA inhibitory activity as low as 1 – 2 µM. The most potent compounds have also been shown to have low toxicity against mammalian cells and exhibit in vivo efficacy in MRSA skin and thigh infection mouse models.

The novel aryl isonitriles have also been evaluated for antifungal activity. This study examines the SAR of aryl isonitrile compounds and showed the isonitriles as compounds that exhibit broad spectrum antifungal activity against species of Candida and Cryptococcus. The most potent derivatives are capable of inhibiting growth of these pathogens at concentrations as low as 0.5 µM. Notably, the most active compounds exhibit excellent safety profile and are non-toxic to mammalian cells up to 256 µM.

Beyond the antibacterial and antifungal activities, structure-antimalarial relationship analysis of over 40 novel aryl isonitrile compounds has established the importance of the isonitrile functionality as an important moiety for antimalarial activity. Of the many isonitrile compounds exhibiting potent antimalarial activity, two have emerged as leads with activity comparable to that of Artemisinin. The SAR details presented in this study will prove essential for the development new aryl isonitrile analogues to advance them to the next step in the antimalarial drug discovery process.

17-nor-Excelsinidine, a zwitterion monoterpene indole alkaloid isolated from Alstonia scholaris is a subject of synthetic scrutiny. This is primarily due to its intriguing chemical structure which includes a bridged bicyclic ammonium moiety, and its anti-adenovirus and anti-HSV activity. Herein we describe a six-step total synthesis of (±)-17-nor-Excelsinidine from tryptamine. Key to the success of this synthesis is the use of palladium-catalyzed carbonylative heck lactamization methodology which built the 6, 7-membered ring lactam in one step. The resulting pentacyclic product, beyond facilitating the easy access to (±)-17-nor-Excelsinidine, could also serve as a precursor to other related indole alkaloids.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Chemistry

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Prof. Mingji Dai

Additional Committee Member 2

Prof. Chris Uyeda

Additional Committee Member 3

Prof. Hilkka Kenttämaa

Additional Committee Member 4

Prof. Mohamed Seleem