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.

"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 April 23, 2014 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 April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) South Korean officials say North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, but is Pyongyang just bluffing this time? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Falls for 4x4s at Beijing Auto Show

China Falls for 4x4s at Beijing Auto Show

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) The urban 4x4 is the latest must-have for Chinese drivers, whose conversion to the cult of the SUV is the talking point of this year's Beijing auto show. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lytro Introduces 'Illum,' A Professional Light-Field Camera

Lytro Introduces 'Illum,' A Professional Light-Field Camera

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) The light-field photography engineers at Lytro unveiled their next innovation: a professional DSLR-like camera called "Illum." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3 Reasons Why Harley Davidson Is Selling Tons of Epic Hogs

3 Reasons Why Harley Davidson Is Selling Tons of Epic Hogs

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) Sales of motorcycles have continued to ride back from the depths of hell known as the Great Recession. Excluding scooters, sales of motorcycles increased 3% in 2013. In units, however, at 465,000 sold last year, the total remained about 50% below the peak hit in 2007. Industry leader Harley Davidson’s shareholders have benefited both by the industry recovery and positive headlines emanating from the company. Belus Capital Advisors CEO Brian Sozzi takes you beyond the headlines of the motorcycle maker. Video provided by TheStreet
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:
from the past week

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