2 min read Newly Designed Ligands for a Catalytic Reaction to Synthesize Drugs and Useful Compounds

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2020-06-30 14:30:28

Gwangju, South Korea — Currently, various therapeutic compounds in the market, such as proteins, enzymes, and amino acids, are “chiral compounds”–molecules with two structures that are “mirror” images of each other but cannot be superimposed. Although the two variants of the molecule, also called “enantiomers,” are structurally the same, how they are oriented (their “chirality”) makes them functionally different from each other. Medicinal drugs can be either a single enantiomer or racemic mixtures (consisting of both enantiomers), often designated as (S) or (R), respectively. They often have distinct biological activities: for example, one enantiomer of a pharmaceutical may be far more effective than its counterpart (such as thalidomide, a racemic mixture that caused various birth defects in children). Thus, synthesizing chiral compounds in an effective manner is crucial to the field of drug design. 

In a new study published in Chemical Science, a group of scientists, led by Prof Sukwon Hong of Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology and Prof Brian M. Stoltz of California Institute of Technology, designed a novel catalytic method that can generate useful chiral compounds. Prof Hong explains, “Chiral molecules have played a key role in modern chemistry, especially in medicinal chemistry. Their development can provide an effective synthetic way to design pharmaceutical products.”

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