Expanding the Chemical Space of Withaferin A by Incorporating Silicon To Improve Its Clinical Potential on Human Ovarian Carcinoma Cells

Ovarian cancer represents the seventh most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide. Herein, we report on the development of a withaferin A (WA)-silyl ether library with 30 analogues reported for the first time. Cytotoxicity assays on human epithelial ovarian carcinoma cisplatin-sensitive and -resistant cell lines identified eight analogues displaying nanomolar potency (IC50 ranging from 1 to 32 nM), higher than that of the lead compound and reference drug. This cytotoxic potency is also coupled with a good selectivity index on a nontumoral cell line. Cell cycle analysis of two potent analogues revealed cell death by apoptosis without indication of cell cycle arrest in G0/G1 phase. The structure–activity relationship and in silico absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion studies demonstrated that the incorporation of silicon and a carbonyl group at C-4 in the WA framework enhances potency, selectivity, and drug likeness. These findings reveal analogues 22, 23, and 25 as potential candidates for clinical translation in patients with relapsed ovarian cancer.