This week in The ChemWeb Alchemist, I report how Illinois chemists have developed a novel catalytic approach that side-steps functional group modifications to streamline organic syntheses. The Alchemist also discovers that a serendipitous finding leads to a bright spot in observing electron transfer in single molecules under the scanning tunneling microscope. While mixed signals appear in C&EN regarding the safety of bisphenol A.
In Africa, extracts of the leaves of the so-called hemorrhage plant could provide medical science with a new approach to faster, cleaner wound healing. Finally this week, upping the glucosinolate content of an entirely different group of plants, brassica crops, might not only help cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower ward off pests and so save on pesticide use, but could also boost the cancer-fighting powers of these foods for people who eat them.
Speedy synthesis – University of Illinois chemists hope to meet the efficiency challenge in organic chemistry by exploiting a newly developed class of carbon-hydrogen catalyst. Christina White and her colleagues are creating a new chemical toolbox of highly selective and reactive catalysts that are tolerant of other functionality. “By offering fewer steps, fewer functional group manipulations and higher yields, this toolbox will change the way chemists make molecules,” White claims. A palladium/sulfoxide catalyst provides the team with a selective method for directly inserting nitrogen functionality into relatively inert C-H bonds without having to manipulate functional groups. The team has reported streamlined syntheses of various compounds, including a peptidase inhibitor drug candidate, a nucleotide-sugar L-galactose, and the chemotherapeutic reagent acosamine. She and her colleagues are currently applying the technology to synthesizing the antibiotic erythromycin A.
Read this week’s Alchemist for summaries and direct links to all featured chemistry news