Chemists devise new way to prepare molecules for drug testing

Aug 15, 2013
Chemists devise new way to prepare molecules for drug testing
Assistant Professor of Chemistry Mark R. Biscoe

(Phys.org) —James Bond had his reasons for ordering his martinis "shaken, not stirred." Similarly, drug manufacturers need to make sure the molecules in a new drug are arranged in an exact manner, lest there be dire consequences. Specifically, they need to be wary of enantiomers, mirror-image molecules composed of the same atoms, but arranged differently.

"One mirror image could be therapeutic while another could be poisonous," said Dr. Mark R. Biscoe, assistant professor of chemistry at The City College of New York. The classic case is thalidomide, a drug marketed in the 1950s and 1960s to treat , which resulted in serious birth defects.

Professor Biscoe led a team of researchers at CCNY that developed a new method for preparing libraries of single-enantiomer molecules for therapeutic and toxicity studies that is faster and potentially less costly than methods now used in the pharmaceutical industry. Their findings were reported in Nature Chemistry.

Currently, drug developers typically rely on a chiral resolution process whereby compounds with roughly equal parts of the two enantiomers are separated into the individual enantiomers. Bioenzymatic processes can also be employed to generate single-enantiomer molecules. These strategies are wasteful and costly, Professor Biscoe explained.

He and colleagues found that a metal such as palladium could be employed to achieve a cross-coupling reaction with a single-enantiomer molecule without impacting the integrity of the mirror image formed in the product. By doing so, they could isolate one for evaluation as a .

"By using a single-enantiomer partner in a cross-coupling reaction, we can rapidly generate a diverse library of biologically active molecules for use in ," he said.

Explore further: Smartgels are thicker than water

More information: www.nature.com/nchem/journal/v… full/nchem.1652.html

Related Stories

Taming the molecule's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Jun 14, 2011

Many organic molecules are non-superimposable with their mirror image. The two forms of such a molecule are called enantiomers and can have different properties in biological systems. The problem is to control which enantiomer ...

Unique method creates correct mirror image of molecule

May 22, 2013

Many molecules have a right and a left form, just like shoes. In pharmaceuticals, it is important that the correct form of the molecule is used. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have been ...

Recommended for you

Smartgels are thicker than water

Sep 19, 2014

Transforming substances from liquids into gels plays an important role across many industries, including cosmetics, medicine, and energy. But the transformation process, called gelation, where manufacturers ...

Separation of para and ortho water

Sep 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Not all water is equal—at least not at the molecular level. There are two versions of the water molecule, para and ortho water, in which the spin states of the hydrogen nuclei are different. ...

User comments : 0