Scientists Develop Fast Chemical Compound Synthesis Method

December 1, 2016

3 Min Read
Scientists Develop Fast Chemical Compound Synthesis Method
IUPUI's Haibo Ge, left, and Yongbing Liu. Image courtesy of IUPUI

Researchers at the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) announced Thursday that a new method of synthesizing chemical compounds that could speed up the development of pharmaceutical drugs.

As 75% of compounds created for medicinal uses contain nitrogen, IUPUI chemists developed a new organic chemical process to produce nitrogen-based compounds that contains fewer steps than previous approaches.

“Having fewer steps and simpler chemical ingredients, as our method does, has potential benefits both for the pharmaceutical industry and for patients,” said Haibo Ge, associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology at the School of Science at IUPUI in a statement. “Our study showed that our technique is an advancement over the currently used method.”

IUPUI said the new method, a hydrocarbon molecular binding technique, could assist in the development of a “second generation” of existing pharmaceuticals and aid in the discovery of new drug treatments. The researchers also suggest that the method offers potential economic and ecologically friendly benefits as well.

“While we are still in an early stage, it appears that in addition to improving the process of synthesizing molecules, our improved method makes that process more economical by saving time and labor. As it is atom-efficient, there is less waste needing disposal,” said Ge.

Ge, along with postdoctoral researcher Yongbing Liu, authored a paper on the new method, “Site-Selective C-H arylation of primary aliphatic amines enabled by a catalytic transient directing group” that will be published in a forthcoming issue of Nature Chemistry. The paper documents the pair’s successful synthesis of fingolimod analogues, a pharmaceutical used in the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.

Chair and professor of chemistry and biological chemistry at IUPUI Partha Basu said the research may have wide impacts.

“Transformation of one hydrocarbon to another is of immense interest for developing new materials, from drugs to energy sorage,” Basu said in a statement. “But making such transformation in a selective way has been a challenge for more than a century. This is what Dr. Ge did using a simple, but efficient, process that requires fewer steps. This simplicity makes the chemistry unique, and it can have a lasting impression in the field of C-H bond activation.”

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