Friday, October 4, 2013

New Small-Molecule Catalyst Could Greatly Speed Therapeutic Discovery Process

To create new therapeutics scientists identify lead compounds which have the desired effect. In order to make these compounds more efficacious, modifying this lead compound is often desirable to improve biological function. Currently, this usually involves either a long synthetic process or engineering an enzyme that is specific to that molecule. However, a recent report in the Journal of the American Chemical Society describes the work of University of Illinois chemists that shows the utility of a human-made catalyst that is an 'enzyme-mimic'.

Ball-and-stick model of the camphoric acid molecule,
 an oxidation product of camphor.

(Black: Carbon(C), White: Hydrogen(H), Red: Oxygen (O)
Unlike enzymes which are large proteins that act on only select molecular targets the new catalyst can oxidize specific carbon hydrogen (C-H) bonds on many different targets. The hope is that catalysts like this new one (called iron CF-3 PDP) and a previously reported catalyst (called iron PDP) will represent a new tool-box that will allow therapeutic designers to alter any C-H bond on any molecule quickly and efficiently.

If these catalysts realize their potential it will allow new therapeutics to be made in less than an hour rather than weeks. The new compounds can then be used in high throughput screening, something at which the PHERAstar FS from BMG LABTECH excels.

The original article from JACS is entitled: Catalyst-Controlled Aliphatic C–H Oxidations with a Predictive Model for Site-Selectivity.