The interest in the synthesis and applications of thioxanthones, dibenzo-gamma-thiopyrones, started in the beginning of the 20th century. Thioxanthones are traditionally synthesized via benzophenone, diarylthioether or diarylthioester intermediates. In recent years, more efficient and
cleaner synthetic methodologies are being applied to obtain thioxanthone derivatives, especially for photochemical applications. Considering biological activities, the first thioxanthone introduced in therapy in 1945 was Miracil D, as an antischistosomal agent. Since then, the variety of studies
of biological/ pharmacological activities of thioxanthones led to the discovery of new agents and to the disclosure of their mechanisms of action. Moreover, the ability to sensitize cancer cells suggested new and promising applications in chemotherapy. New antitumor derivatives are being developed
by molecular modifications such as isosterism (aza-thioxanthones and aminoethylthioxanthones) or hybridation (psorospermine and acronycin analogues). The last generation of antitumor thioxanthones rendered a derivative, SR271425, with an excellent preclinical antitumor efficacy. The last decade
has been excited in the research of thioxanthones with important achievements in both synthesis and biochemical applications, especially in order to dissociate the antitumor activity from the toxicity of drug candidates. Recently, thioxanthones emerged as dual inhibitors of P-glycoprotein
and tumor cell growth. It is expected that in the following years new analogues with the thioxanthone scaffold emerge in the field of anticancer therapy, with enhanced antitumor activity and without serious side effects.
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