Like human hands, many molecules that make up drugs come in two shapes, right and left. But usually only one of the two versions has the desired effect; the other is at best useless and sometimes even harmful. For example, side effects from the morning sickness drug Thalidomide resulted in profound birth defects because one shape of the molecule was therapeutic and the other was dangerous.
Don Coltart, an assistant professor of chemistry at Duke, appears to have found a way to make synthetic ketone molecules in just one version or the other using a process that is faster, cheaper and less wasteful than the best techniques now available.
And unlike previous attempts to make just one shape of these molecules, a process called asymmetric synthesis, the new method should be able to scaling up to industrial manufacturing quantities.
"Asymmetric synthesis of ketones is not new, but we can do it more practically and easily," said Coltart, who developed the new technique with graduate student Daniel Lim."
Though well-known to the pharmaceutical industry, this problem of molecular handedness in ketones has been difficult to solve. Academic labs have succeeded at asymmetric synthesis over the last two decades, but only by using extreme conditions (e.g. temperatures of -100 degrees Celsius), and costly and time-consuming steps.
Conducted at zero C to -40 C, the new process uses a small molecule called a "chiral auxiliary" to attach pieces to a molecule being built, which causes the new pieces to have the correct handedness. The process is up to 98 percent accurate, Coltart said, and the auxiliary molecules can be easily released and recycled after they've done their work.
"He did something very different," said Samuel Danishefsky of Columbia University and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, who is Coltart's former post-doctoral mentor. "You could have had a hundred people look at this problem and not see it the way he did. It's a very nice idea."
Coltart said there is a huge need for drug companies to be more selective to make better drugs with fewer side effects, which this new process might help achieve. Pharmaceutical companies might also use the new technique to turn existing formulations of drugs sold as mixtures into a pure form having only the active form of the drug, giving them another seven years of patent protection.
Karl Leif Bates | EurekAlert!
Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
21.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Chemists at FAU successfully demonstrate imine hydrogenation with inexpensive main group metal
21.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.
Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...
A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.
Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.05.2018 | Information Technology
18.05.2018 | Information Technology