Just about every biological molecule — the proteins and sugars that make up our cells, that make up us — is built on vast networks of these ubiquitous chemical bonds.
And almost every significant carbon-based biomolecule contains a nitrogen compound, or amine.
Achieving this carbon-nitrogen bond in the lab, though, is tricky business. Drug companies know it well; when synthesizing new chemicals for drug testing, they must first create the carbon-carbon bonds, and then introduce the nitrogen to make a molecule that will do something useful. It’s a multi-step, expensive and complex process.
Colorado State University chemists have figured out how to do it in one step.
One reaction for precision chemistry
They’ve developed a process that, in the world of catalytic chemistry, achieves something remarkable: A single chemical reaction that couples two constituent chemicals into a carbon-carbon bond, while simultaneously introducing a nitrogen component. They can control the reaction to make the nitrogen atoms go exactly where they want them to, making for precision chemistry that could revolutionize pharmaceutical and materials manufacturing.
The unprecedented achievement is detailed in the journal Nature, published Oct. 21. The work was led by organic chemist Tomislav Rovis, professor of chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences at CSU, and postdoctoral researcher Tiffany Piou, who designed all the chemical building blocks and ran the experiments.
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