Japan develops new method to create several building blocks of pharmaceutical drugs

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Scientists demonstrate new method of producing a specific class of organic compounds, which promises to accelerate drug discovery research for several diseases

JScientists from overseas-based Waseda University recently demonstrated a new method of producing a specific class of organic compounds, which promises to accelerate drug discovery research for several diseases.

Medicines, including those for depression, schizophrenia, and malaria, wouldn’t be without a type of organic chemical called an alicyclic compound. These compounds are 3D structures formed when three or more carbon atoms join together in a ring via covalent bonds, but the ring is not aromatic. Aromatic compounds are another class of organic compounds which are 2D structures with reactive properties distinct from those of alicyclic compounds.

By dearomatizing arenes, alicyclic compounds can be obtained. De-aromatization is one of the most powerful ways to obtain alicyclic compounds. But some of the more abundantly available arenes, such as benzene and naphthalene, are very stable, and breaking them down to build alicyclic compounds has been a challenge.

In the new process, the bromoarenes are reacted with two other classes of organic compounds, the diazo compounds and the malonates, in the presence of a palladium catalyst, under optimum conditions of concentration, temperature and time. Subsequently, good amounts of the corresponding alicyclic compounds are produced.

The use of malonates as a reagent is what allows this multifunctionality, distinguishing this new method from existing methods, which are often very specific in terms of the possible products. 2D bromoarenes have reacted with diazo compounds and malonates in the presence of a palladium catalyst to produce highly functionalized 3D alicyclic compounds, which are extremely important in pharmaceuticals.


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