CHICAGO, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- Researchers at the University of Illinois (UI) have developed a new manganese-based catalyst that can change the structure of druglike molecules to make new drugs, thus advancing the pace and efficiency of drug development.
"We have developed a synthetic manganese catalyst that can oxidize aliphatic scaffolds in the presence of aromatics that serve as frameworks for most drugs," said UI chemistry professor M. Christina White.
"Our new catalyst does the work of a complex enzyme, but is a simple substance that uses basic principles and can be stored in a refrigerator," White said, adding it will allow drug developers to replace a hydrogen atom with an oxygen atom without having to make a new drug from scratch.
The researchers have used the new manganese catalyst to successfully demonstrate oxidation in 50 molecules, four of which are drug scaffolds, with the potential to rapidly produce derivatives having different biological activities or metabolites. This is important because metabolites, the byproducts of metabolizing a drug, sometimes cause side effects or are more active than the original drug.
"We believe this catalyst may enable chemists to expedite the drug discovery process by producing new drugs from old ones and identifying metabolites without having to do new syntheses," she said.
The findings have been published in the journal Nature Chemistry.