Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have created a novel technique that for the first time will allow the efficient production of a molecular structure that is common to a vast array of natural molecules. This advance provides a means to explore the potential of this molecular substructure in the search for new therapies.
The study was published on May 23, 2010 in an advance online edition of the journal Nature Chemistry.
The structures in question, called "skipped polyenes," are shared by a large class of molecules that play a critical role in human health, including polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are vital to blood pressure regulation, inflammation, and immune response. The structures are also shared by a number of potent antibiotic, antifungal, and cytotoxic (toxic to living cells) compounds.
Simple and efficient methods for the preparation of skipped polyenes have generally been lacking, creating a significant barrier to exploring their potential as drugs. Currently, the production of molecules that contain simple variants of this substructure is quite labor intensive.
"Our study identifies a novel chemical reaction that will enable the accelerated production of this type of structural motif," said Associate Professor Glenn Micalizio, who authored the new study with a member of his Scripps Florida lab, Research Associate Todd K. Macklin. "This new reaction provides a means to explore the medicinal potential of molecules bearing complex skipped polyenes something that we simply haven't been able to do until now."
Chemical Short Cuts
In essence, the new chemical method provides a means to replace long, step-by-step sequences of reactions that would have otherwise been required to prepare skipped polyenes. The new chemical process defines a fundamentally novel pathway (a new carbon-carbon bond forming process) to these complex structures that proceeds in just a fraction of t
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Scripps Research Institute