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Leeds researchers reshape the future of drug discovery
Date:11/18/2008

Co-researcher Dr Stuart Warriner added: "Making molecules is a bit like making something using lego bricks. Up until now we've only really become good at making, say, the equivalent of a lego car or train. There might be 30 million synthetic molecules registered, but there's probably several million of these that are the equivalent of lego cars they may have different wheels and wing mirrors, but their fundamental shape is essentially the same. We've not really scratched the surface of the possible structures that could be made. This lack of variety in the core shape of molecules may well limit the range of proteins that medicinal chemists can target."

The Leeds approach makes use of 'metathesis', a reaction that won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Explains Professor Nelson: "We take simple building blocks, a bit like the amino acids that make up peptides, and we assemble them in different sequences using three simple reactions to link them together in a chain. The key difference is that we then add the catalyst which initiates a 'scaffold reprogramming reaction', which ripples down the chemical chain and restitches the molecule together in a completely different way each time.

"It's a bit like a molecular square dance, where atoms in the molecule swap partners - and the exciting thing is that we can change the building blocks again and again in different combinations as a really powerful way to vary the core frameworks that result. The potential of this process is enormous," he says.

The team from Leeds have used their approach to prepare molecules with 84 distinct molecular frameworks and about two-thirds of the frameworks are unprecedented in the history of organic chemistry. The work is a huge leap forward from landmark research reported in 2003, which resulted in the creation of six frameworks in a single process. It is also a significant improvement on more recent research in which around 30 frameworks were created
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Contact: Professor Adam Nelson
a.s.nelson@leeds.ac.uk
44-011-334-36502
University of Leeds
Source:Eurekalert

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