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Drug discovery

New technique produces chirally pure molecules

abstract-organic-molecules

Source: Razvan Ionut Dragomirescu/Dreamstime

US scientists develop new technique for creating molecules that could aid drug discovery

Activation reactions – in which carbon–hydrogen (C–H) bonds are broken to create new molecules – is a promising area of drug development. US researchers have made a breakthrough by developing a new technique to create chiral (“one-handed”) molecules.

In research published in Science (online, 24 October 2014[1]), Jin-Quan Yu from The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and colleagues used the metal palladium plus an amino acid to act as a catalyst to break C–H bonds, followed by iodination. The amino acid ligand is able to select which enantiomer of the starting material to react with. Once the palladium breaks the C-H bonds of the desired chiral molecules, iodine replaces the removed hydrogen.

“That iodine is the magic, it can be replaced with anything as medicinal chemists wish,” says Yu. “This opens a new avenue to create chirally pure molecules for drug discovery.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20066945

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