Nav: Home

UWM researchers' work in catalysis could aid drug development

August 04, 2016

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," says Wilfred Tysoe, UWM distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

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 from the Tysoe group at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 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 work, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, is detailed in a paper published today in the journal Nature Communications.

The work was carried out in collaboration with Dilano Saldin, a UWM distinguished professor of physics; post-doctoral researchers Mausumi Mahapatra, Michael Garvey and Yun Bai; and chemistry graduate student Luke Burkholder.

The researchers put a chiral molecule on the surface of a heterogeneous catalyst to investigate how the catalyst biased the surface to favor a particular handedness.

"A major problem with designing such catalysts arises from the fact that it is difficult to completely influence all of the places on the extended metal surface where the reaction takes place," said Tysoe. "So any unmodified positions on the surface will produce both right- and left-handed molecules."

Rather than using a complex commercial catalyst, the team used a simplified catalyst that retained the commercial version's key chemical properties. This allowed them to use a Scanning Tunneling Microscope to "see" which molecules adsorb and interact on the catalyst surface.

"We found that the reactant molecules undergo a structural change when it interacts with the chiral modifier which leads to the preferential formation of one enantiomer, and also makes it more reactive," Tysoe said.
-end-


University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

Related Chemistry Articles:

Better chemistry through tiny antennae
A research team at The University of Tokyo has developed a new method for actively controlling the breaking of chemical bonds by shining infrared lasers on tiny antennae.
Chemistry in motion
For the first time, researchers have managed to view previously inaccessible details of certain chemical processes.
Researchers enrich silver chemistry
Researchers from Russia and Saudi Arabia have proposed an efficient method for obtaining fundamental data necessary for understanding chemical and physical processes involving substances in the gaseous state.
The chemistry behind kibble (video)
Have you ever thought about how strange it is that dogs eat these dry, weird-smelling bits of food for their entire lives and never get sick of them?
Top 10 chemistry start-ups
Starting a new chemistry-based company is one part discovery, one part risk.
Biomimetic chemistry: Carbohydrate capture
LMU chemists have designed and synthesized a helical molecule that specifically recognizes and binds to a disaccharide consisting of two five-carbon sugar units.
Reining in soil's nitrogen chemistry
The compound urea is currently the most popular nitrogen soil fertilizer.
Taking a closer look at 'electrifying' chemistry
With the increasing availability of electrical energy from renewable sources, it will be possible in the future to drive many chemical processes using an electric current.
The changing chemistry of the Amazonian atmosphere
Researchers have been debating whether nitrogen oxides (NOx) can affect levels of OH radicals in a pristine atmosphere but quantifying that relationship has been difficult.
The chemistry of Hollywood bloodbaths (video)
Fake blood is a staple of the Halloween horror film experience, but there's no one recipe to suit every filmmaker's needs.
More Chemistry News and Chemistry Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab