New catalysis find sheds light on how to make safer drugs

| Updated: Aug 05, 2016 17:02 IST

Washington D.C, Aug 5 (ANI): A team of researchers' work in catalysis could aid drug development. Many molecules have a chemical structure that is "chiral" - they come in two forms, each with an arrangement of atoms that are mirror images of each other. These "right-handed" and "left-handed" arrangements, called enantiomers, are problematic for industries that make pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. Proteins and sugars in the human body exist in only one of the two enantiomers. Yet the catalytic reactions involved in making drugs often produce molecules with both the "right-handed" and "left-handed" arrangements. "The handedness of molecules that we ingest, such as drugs, can behave differently depending on whether they are left- or right-handed, often with catastrophic consequences," said University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee's Wilfred Tysoe. That means that drugs have to be synthesized to have only one "handedness." Current chiral catalysts that can accomplish this task mix tightly with the reactants, making them difficult to separate afterwards. The goal is to develop a solid "chiral" catalyst that can easily be separated from its products. New research helps to bring that goal closer to reality. The researchers uncovered what happens on the surface of a solid chiral catalyst that allows the preferential formation of only one enantiomer of a molecule. The study is published in the journal Nature Communications. (ANI)