Given the difficulty of the task, the synthesis would have been impressive at any length. But, with 25 steps currently involved, it would be difficult to make substantial quantities of Palau'imine for commercial purposes. So the Baran team has already devised a scheme that could shave as many as ten steps from the overall synthesis process and hopes to ultimately provide substantial quantities of the compound to other researchers and commercial partners that will pursue Palau'amine's pharmaceutical potential.
To Baran, the project has already led to substantial benefits regardless of whether the compound or some derivative of it ever shows commercial success. Pharmaceutical companies are already using the silver oxidation technique to produce other potential drugs, students have received an invaluable, and other lessons learned about synthesizing challenging compounds will ultimately be applied in numerous other quests.
"I see those types of advances as being the most useful things to come out of endeavors like this," says Baran.
Palau'amine tops a string of achievements for the Baran lab, most recently solving the two-decade old riddle of how to synthesize a compound called vinigrol that lowers blood pressure in rats. Results of this work were published in October 2009 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and are currently the journal's most downloaded paper.
While Palau'amine had achieved a special and rare prominence as an apex challenge, it's just one in a sea of other opportunities according to Baran, all with important potential benefits of their own.
"In my opinion there are a lot of treasures out there like Palau'amine," he sa
|Contact: Keith McKeown|
Scripps Research Institute