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Home Industry News Chemists Speed up Creation of Molecule Used in 20% Pharmaceuticals

Chemists Speed up Creation of Molecule Used in 20% Pharmaceuticals

6th December 2022

The University of Bristol is home to a group of chemists that have developed a considerably quicker method for producing complicated molecules that are frequently utilised by pharmaceutical manufacturers to generate antibiotics and anti-fungal medications.

This symbolises the successful completion of a five-year research effort, discovering how to recreate molecules from the polyketide chemical group in a laboratory environment.
The PhD student who drove the research report, Sheenagh Aiken, expressed that this is “an exciting discovery, which could bring important benefits for the pharmaceutical industry and public health.

“We chose this specific polyketide because it is one of the hardest to work with and manipulate. Now we’ve devised a way to make it more quickly in the lab, this should make it easier to apply the technique to others with equally significant implications.”

Approximately 20% of all medications feature polyketides in their development. These are natural compounds that are frequently only found in trace amounts yet have potent therapeutic qualities.

The group focused on the recreation of Bahamaolide A, a polyketide that often requires more than 20 stages to make in a lab and managed to discover a better method that requires only 14 steps.

Sheenagh Aiken, explained how the new method “mimics nature by coupling together building blocks and using catalysts to add and modify functional groups in a process like an assembly line. This highly controlled and predictable approach has potential for making the manufacture of sophisticated molecules more efficient.”

Varinder Aggarwal, one of the universities Professors who spearheaded the project, commented that “due to their highly specific and potent biological activity as well their structural complexity, polyketide natural products have been attractive targets in chemical synthesis research for over 50 years. Through a different strategy to what others have done before, we have succeeded in developing a step change in efficiency to this important class of molecules.”

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