Discovering new pharmaceuticals is a resource-intensive enterprise. Carbon-hydrogen bonds are present in almost all pharmaceuticals, and converting these bonds to new bonds of carbon with some other element would provide a streamlined route to novel drug candidates. The Sanford lab has developed a new approach approach to alter the C-H bonds in class of structures called "alicyclic amines", which appear in a wide variety of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of depression, leukemia, schizophrenia, and malaria, among other maladies. The researchers specifically demonstrate the utility of this approach in the synthesis of new derivatives of varencicline (Chantix®) which is used to help smokers quit smoking.


Palladium-catalysed transannular C–H functionalization of alicyclic amines

Joseph J. Topczewski, Pablo J. Cabrera1, Noam I. Saper, & Melanie S. Sanford

An approach to selectively manipulate the C–H bonds of alicyclic amines at sites remote to
nitrogen is demonstrated by the synthesis of new derivatives of several bioactive molecules,
including varenicline, a drug used to treat nicotine addiction.

Nature (2016) doi:10.1038/nature16957