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Synthesis, Characterization and Evaluation of Cytotoxic Activities of Novel Aziridinyl Phosphonic Acid Derivatives

New aziridine 2-phosphonic acids were prepared by monohydrolysis of the aziridine 2-phosphonates that were obtained by the modified Gabriel-Cromwell reaction of vinyl phosphonate or alpha-tosylvinyl phosphonate with a primary amine or a chiral amine. The cellular cytotoxicity of these compounds was tested against the HCT-116 colorectal cancer cell lines and the CCD-18Co normal colon fibroblast lines using the MTT assay. Three of the synthesized phosphonic acid derivatives 2e (ethyl hydrogen {(2S)-1-[(1S)-1-(naphthalen-2-yl)ethyl]aziridin-2-yl}phosphonate), 2h (ethyl hydrogen (1-benzylaziridin-2-yl)phosphonate), and 2i (ethyl hydrogen (1-cyclohexylaziridin-2-yl)phosphonate) showed higher cytotoxicity than the reference cancer treatment agent etoposide. Cell death was through a robust induction of apoptosis even more effectively than etoposide, a well-known apoptosis inducing agent.