Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chirality: New method to consistently make left-handed or right-handed molecules

Date:
June 18, 2011
Source:
University of Gothenburg
Summary:
Many organic molecules are non-superimposable with their mirror image. The two forms of such a molecule are called enantiomers and can have different properties in biological systems. The problem is to control which enantiomer you want to produce -- a problem that has proved to be important in the pharmaceutical industry. Researchers have now come up with a new method to control the process.

Homochiral crystals for selective synthesis.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Gothenburg

Many organic molecules are non-superimposable with their mirror image. The two forms of such a molecule are called enantiomers and can have different properties in biological systems. The problem is to control which enantiomer you want to produce -- a problem that has proved to be important in the pharmaceutical industry. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have now come up with a new method to control the process.

Related Articles


"Organic chemists think that it's impossible to create only one of the enantiomers without introducing some kind of optical activity into the reaction, but I've succeeded," says Theonitsa Kokoli at the University of Gothenburg's Department of Chemistry. "My method will allow the industry to produce the version they want without the use of a catalyst."

The phenomenon of non-superimposable mirror-image molecular structures is known as chirality. The two enantiomers can be compared to a pair of hands; they are non-superimposable mirror images of each other. A consequence of the different properties in biological systems is that a molecule can behave either as Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde. The different characteristics in the enantiomers can be harmless, like in the limonene molecule. One enantiomer smells like orange and the other like lemon.

Thalidomide is a good example of how different forms of the same molecule can have disastrous consequences. One of the enantiomers was calming and eased nausea in pregnant women, while the other caused serious damage to the fetus. The thalidomide catastrophe is one of the reasons that a lot of research is devoted to chirality, as it is absolutely vital to be able to control which form of the molecule that is produced. Research on chirality has resulted in several Nobel Prizes over the years.

In biomolecules like DNA and proteins only one of the enantiomers exists in nature. In contrast to biomolecules, the same does not apply when chiral compounds are created synthetically in the lab. Generally an equal amount of both enantiomers is produced. One way of creating an excess of one enantiomer is to use a chiral catalyst, but this only transfers the properties that are already present in the catalyst.

"I've been working with absolute asymmetric synthesis instead, where optical activity is created," says Kokoli. "This is considered impossible by many organic chemists. I've used crystals in my reactions, where the two forms have crystallised as separate crystals, which in itself is fairly unusual. The product that was formed after the reactions comprised just one enantiomer."

While the results of Kokoli's research are particularly significant for the pharmaceuticals industry, they can also be used in the production of flavourings and aromas.

The thesis has been successfully defended on May 6, 2011.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Gothenburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Gothenburg. "Chirality: New method to consistently make left-handed or right-handed molecules." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614122202.htm>.
University of Gothenburg. (2011, June 18). Chirality: New method to consistently make left-handed or right-handed molecules. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614122202.htm
University of Gothenburg. "Chirality: New method to consistently make left-handed or right-handed molecules." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614122202.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cablevision Enters Wi-Fi Phone Fray

Cablevision Enters Wi-Fi Phone Fray

Reuters - Business Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) The entry by Cablevision and Google could intensify the already heated price wars for mobile phone service. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hector the Robot Mimics a Giant Stick Insect

Hector the Robot Mimics a Giant Stick Insect

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) A robot based on a stick insect can navigate difficult terrain autonomously and adapt to its surroundings. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Buzz60 (Jan. 26, 2015) Swiss scientists build a new drone that can both fly and walk, modeling it after the movements of common vampire bats. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama's Wildlife Plan Renews Alaska Drilling Debate

Obama's Wildlife Plan Renews Alaska Drilling Debate

Newsy (Jan. 26, 2015) President Obama&apos;s proposal aims to protect more land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but so far, all that&apos;s materialized is a war of words. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins