Discoveries In Chemical Synthesis Spurs New Developments

Austria’s University of Vienna’s team of chemists, which happen to be led by Nuno Maulide, has gone on to achieve quite a prominent breakthrough in terms of chemical synthesis through creating a novel method that manipulates carbon hydrogen bonds.

This unparalleled discovery offers fresh insights into the molecular interactions pertaining to positively charged carbon items. Through targeting selectively, a specific C-H bond, they happen to open the gates to synthetic pathways that were closed before with potential medicine applications. The study happens to be published in the journal Science.

It is a well-known fact that living organisms, including humans, owe their intricacy to molecules that consist mainly of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. All these building blocks go on to form the basis for innumerable elements that are necessary in daily life, such as medications.

When chemists begin synthesizing a new drug, they go on to manipulate the molecules by way of a series of chemical reactions so as to come up with compounds having distinct properties as well as structures.

All this goes on to break as well as form bonds between the atoms. There are some bonds, like carbon and hydrogen (C-H) bonds, that happen to be especially robust and also need significant energy to break, whereas the others can be modified pretty easily.

In the case of organic compounds, there were dozens of C-H bonds, and chemists traditionally had to resort to manipulating other, much weaker bonds. These bonds happen to be much less common and more likely to be introduced within additional synthetic steps, making the approach much more costly, and hence more efficient and sustainable synthetic methods happen to be looked into.

New approach: C-H Activation

The concept of C-H activation happens to be a revolutionary approach helping with direct manipulation of strong C-H bonds, and this breakthrough goes on to elevate the efficiency of synthetic process and at the same time decrease their respective environmental effects, and also offer a more sustainable path in terms of drug discovery.

One of the major challenges happens to be to-the-point manipulation when it comes to specific C-H bonds within a molecule that has many varied C-H bonds. These hurdles, often called the selectivity problem, create barriers to the broader application of the established C-H activation reactions.

Aiming at a specific C-H Bond

Researchers from the Austrian University of Vienna have gone on to develop a new C-H activation reaction that goes on to address this selectivity issue and, at the same time, helps in the synthesis of intricate carbon-based molecules. By selectively targeting a specific C-H bond with the help of unmatched precision, they go on to open the doors to the synthetic pathways that were initially closed.

The Maulide group goes on to stress on the so called carbocations- which are molecules having positively charged carbon atoms as major intermediates. As per Nuno Maulide, traditionally, carbocations go ahead and react by eradicating a hydrogen atom that is adjacent to the carbon atom, thereby forming a carbon-carbon double bond within the product. Products having double bonds named alkens can very well be useful, but at times a single bond instead of double happens to be desired. They have discovered in specific cases that reactivity can go on to take a new direction which leads to a phenomenon named remote elimination which results in the form of a new carbon-carbon single bond- a phenomenon that hasn’t been looked into before, say the first authors of the study, Philip Grant & Milos Vavrik.

The researchers went on to demonstrate the new reactivity by synthesizing decalins, which are a building block for many pharmaceuticals.

As per Maulide, who was the 2019 Austrian Scientist of the Year, Decalins happen to be a class of cyclic carbon-based molecules that are found in numerous biologically active compounds. They can now go on to produce such molecules in a more efficient way, thereby potentially contributing to the development of new and more efficient drugs.