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Favipiravir and the battle against COVID-19

Whilst I was working towards my PhD in the early 90’s I remember reading ‘The Hot Zone’ by Richard Preston.1 Although non-fiction it read very much like a Michael Critchton2 thriller- describing the emergence and spread of viral hemorrhagic fevers and filoviruses such as Ebola and Marburg. Viruses such as Ebola are somewhat self-limiting in that the

Engineering life into new chemical transformations

Nature has had many generations to optimise its catalytic processes. As a result they are both extremely efficient and exquisitely selective. Biocatalysis is now very much a mainstay of industrial organic synthesis, particularly with the advent of protein engineering and directed evolution enabling the preparation of robust enzymes fine-tuned to a particular substrate. The importance

Syn-3-Fluoro-4-aminopiperidine- a story from multiple orientations

If Nature could re-write her proteinogenic amino acid instruction manual I’m fairly sure that a piperidine ring would feature in there somewhere. Perhaps in the spirit of less is more the pyrrolidine ring won out. Not so for human synthetic engineers- the piperidine ring is ubiquitous in pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and advanced materials and is the

The sun never sets on synthetic methodology- redox neutral organocatalytic Mitsunobu reactions

One of the things I enjoy most about science, and chemistry in particular, is that even processes that are well understood and used routinely, almost without thinking about them, can be re-invented. The allure of discovering new reactions and being at the forefront of a completely new area of research attracts many academics and students,

Alright with Rongalite! – Reagent of the Month

Sodium formaldehydesulfoxylate,1 first reported in the chemical literature in 1905 and marketed as Rongalite (Figure 1, CAS: 149-44-0, dihydrate: 6035-47-8, from the French word rongeage for decolorize)- is a commodity chemical used in the textile and dye industry as a bleaching agent and as a reducing agent in redox initiator systems for polymer formation. Historically it has

Enabling Synthesis in Fragment Based Drug Design (FBDD) with Emerging Technologies

Dr John Studley, Science Director at Scientific Update and Dr Rachel Grainger from Astex Pharmaceuticals got together ahead of our forthcoming Organic Process R&D Conference in Lisbon, Portugal on 23-25 September. Q: Dr John Studley (JS) Can you give us an overview of Fragment Based Drug Discovery (FBDD) and how you see the technique evolving over the next decade? A:

Light-driven Deoxyfluorination of Alcohols with Seletfluor

Deoxyfluorination remains amongst the most frequently used method for preparing alkyl fluoro compounds.1 The reaction typically involves activation of a leaving group followed by SN2 (but occasionally SN1) reaction with fluoride ion. This is usually accompanied with significant elimination side-reactions and can frequently be low yielding. The original deoxyfluorination reagents such as DAST (diethylaminosulfur-trifluoride) and

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Dr John Studley, Science Director at Scientific Update and Dr William Goundry from Astra Zeneca got together ahead of our forthcoming Organic Process R&D Conference in Lisbon, Portugal on 23-25 September. Q: Dr John Studley (JS) We are looking forward to your presentation ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly! Successes and Failures from the

A Nifty Thrifty Route to Photoredox Catalysis

One of the most significant technological advancements in synthetic organic chemistry in recent years is the use of photoredox catalysis to generate synthetically useful radical intermediates and promote novel reactivity. It has the potential to enable exploration of chemical space that remains difficult to access using traditional synthetic methodology and too improve the efficiency of

The Phantom Menace

When I started my PhD one of my then colleges spent months trying to make something that was sitting on a shelf in the chemical store room less than ten feet from their bench. Could there really be anything more frustrating? Well yes there could. Imagine finding a new catalytic process or synthetic transformation only

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