Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Complex natural molecules made in the lab

Chemists have developed ways to produce complex core structures of biologically active molecules, bringing them one step closer to making complicated natural products.
Complex natural molecules made in the lab
Many biologically active natural compounds contain complex molecular structures that are extremely difficult for chemists to make from scratch. Their production is particularly complicated by the presence of a structural element containing closely situated carbon atoms with four different chemical groups attached. Known as vicinal all carbon quaternary stereocentres, these structures are present in many important pharmacological products like morphine and cortisone.

The EU-funded VICQUAT (Methodology for and synthesis of highly congested molecules) project aimed to develop a method for creating complex natural molecules from simple starting materials. In particular, the project team wanted to make the structural element containing quaternary stereocentres a starting point for assembling various natural products.

Researchers attempted to produce various precursor chemicals, aiming to build towards a final tetracyclic core structure with four rings of carbon atoms. Having produced cyclic substrates, the researchers then attempted to produce a precursor to the tetracyclic core of the biologically active compound.

Pursuing alternative strategies, VICQUAT chemists developed a way to produce complex variants of lactone, a cyclic molecule that gives flavour to dairy products and fruit. This method could be used to incorporate quaternary stereocentres in organic molecules and will prove useful to the pharmaceutical, fine chemical and materials industries.

Related information


Natural molecules, biologically active, natural products, molecular structures, quaternary stereocentres
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