Affiliations: 3Go to article
Peering at mirror image molecules
© Kristina Peneva/EyeEm /Getty
Chinese scientists have developed an efficient method for synthesizing chiral compounds that can be used to build complex molecules, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Many biological compounds contain enantiomers — molecules that are mirror images of themselves, whose effects on other biological systems differ — which have been used to enhance the effectiveness of pharmaceutical drugs while minimizing negative side-effects. Synthesizing them, however, is very challenging.
Scientists from China, including researchers from the Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemical Science and Engineering in Tianjin, used a palladium and amine-catalyzed asymmetric alkylation process, which substitutes specific functional groups with other functional groups in compounds, allowing them to rapidly synthesize enantioselective molecules of allene, biologically active compounds that are used to build complex molecules.
The technique is capable of producing high numbers of allene enantiomers, and could also be applied to other biological molecules.
- J. Am. Chem. Soc. 139, 3631–3634 (2017). doi: 10.1021/jacs.7b00437