Researchers in Oxford University¡¦s Department of Chemistry have devised a new method of selectively oxidising terpenes to produce compounds of particular interest to the perfumery, flavour and pharmaceutical industries.
Terpenes and their derivatives are commonly used in industry to modify flavours and fragrances, and new compounds for trial are continuously needed. The terpenes themselves are not of commercial interest, but rather the derivatives that commonly require stereoselective functionalisation at allylic as well as non-activated C-H bonds of the parent terpene. This is one of the most difficult reactions to carry out by conventional reactions since the highly reactive chemical oxidising agents are typically non-selective.
In the Oxford laboratory, considerable excitement is centred on the capability of introducing hydroxyl groups into specific sites in the molecule with a high degree of stereoselectivity. The researchers have developed a method of oxidising terpenes, or other hydrocarbons of interest, by enzymatic techniques. Indeed, non-activated C-H groups can be targeted. Typically, the oxidation produces high yields of relatively pure compounds.
Jennifer Johnson | alfa
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