Discovery Could Improve Drug Research

EVANSTON, Ill., July 28 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say new discoveries about chemical catalysts could lead to creation of pharmaceutical drugs with less chemical waste or harm to the environment.

Researchers at Northwestern University have discovered how to get two different catalysts working on the same task, something nature does easily but is hard to achieve in the laboratory, a university release said Tuesday.


The findings will allow drug chemists to invent new reactions and produce desirable compounds faster with less impact on the environment, the release said.

Chemistry using catalysts is inherently green, the researchers say.

Catalytic reactions typically employ a single molecule (a catalyst) to enhance a reaction or make a reaction possible that wouldn’t otherwise happen. Since a catalyst only needs to be present in very small amounts, the potential to control extensive chemical processes while reducing waste makes catalysts very attractive, the Northwestern scientists say.

“We discovered a pair of catalysts that work cooperatively to produce valuable compounds for biomedical research,” Northwest Chemistry Professor Karl A. Scheidt said.

“Cooperative catalysis — using two catalysts instead of just one — will help us develop important compounds faster and with less waste,” he said.

“It also opens up an exciting new area of catalysis to explore.”

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