A nanoreactor to simplify pharmaceutical manufacturing

Nature’s ability to perform apparently impossible chemical transformations in single cascading reaction sequences is astounding. Although scientists are still incapable of mimicking the excessive performance and unbelievable variety of those processes, one department of catalysis targets to mix the reactivity, selectivity, and robustness of natural enzymes with artificial catalysts to circumvent the time and cost related to chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Especially at a time when new viral infections, such as the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19), are labeled global emergencies, streamlining the synthesis of latest leads in addition to the drug production processes is immensely crucial.

While catalysis in general has made significant strides in current decades, the dream of making a single catalyst capable of carrying out distinctive chemical and biocatalytic processes stays elusive.

The concept of a universal catalyst is made difficult (if not impossible) through the reality that the chemical synthesis of various prescription drugs or chemical substances greater frequently than not involves multi-step strategies that require workup and purification among steps, multiple catalysts, and varying response conditions, which is probably well suited with one catalyst but could then deactivate it in the next step.

But possibly instead of a magical one-reaction-fits-all catalyst, the combination of various catalysts right into a single system while maintaining their reactivity and balance might be greater plausible. A research crew led by Dr. Soumen Dutta and Professor In Su Lee from POSTECH Department of Chemistry proposes just this. In a recent study published in Angewandte Chemie, the team developed catalytic nanoreactors, which effectively integrated 3 different catalysts into a single metal-organic framework.

Metal-organic frameworks are hybrid organic (carbon-containing molecules) and inorganic (metallic-containing) crystalline systems that encompass a normal array of definitely charged metallic ions surrounded through natural “linker” molecules. They are considered porous substances and provide blessings over different substances in terms of their “tunability” and structural control.

In the current study, the team’s method was to construct ultralarge pores (20–40 nm) inside metal-organic framework crystals, which become performed with the aid of the aggressive coordination chemistry of a metallic-loving polymer. Next, they included distinctive catalysts with different abilties to allow divergent multi-step cascade reactions in the identical reactive pot below ambient conditions.

Not simplest did the crew display various chemical transformations, which included the likes of selective nucleophilic addition however additionally chiral middle generation, racemization, and kinetic resolution, all particularly crucial strategies in drug manufacturing as precision in chemical shape can be the difference among a preferred organic impact and an unwanted, harmful side impact. All of this become performed with a single nanoreactor in which catalysts have been separated through mere nanometers.

This development is a game-changer with the ability to revolutionize the manufacturing of fine chemicals by cutting down on the steps required to make them, the use of much less energy and environmentally hazardous solvents, as well as lowering the time required to increase urgently wanted medicines. It will be interesting to look where this technology goes.

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