Developing new catalyst for efficient synthesis

Catalysis is a central tenet of modern organic synthesis. It allows for the efficient, atom economic and scalable conversion of starting materials to products, often with high levels of absolute or relative stereocontrol. Research has been directed towards optimising two catalytic systems. We have developed a range of new nitrogen sources for the osmium catalysed asymmetric aminohydroxylation reaction. These new reagents work under mild conditions and afford high yields of the target amino alcohols in the absence of chlorinating reagents. The chemistry has application for the synthesis of amino alcohol building blocks with high selectivity. The second project is developing genetically engineered enzyme from E. coli in combination with a synthetically derived glycosyl fluoride for the synthesis of glucuronide conjugates (see front cover). Early results show that this method works with comparable efficiency to existing chemical or enzymic protocols. Work is ongoing to improve the efficiency of these enzyme catalysts. The chemistry will have application to the synthesis of drug metabolites for areas such as pharmaceutical science, residue analysis for agricultural produce and sports drug testing.