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May 9, 2012
More Reaction Discovery (Now With Antibody Detection)
I've written here before about reaction discovery schemes, and the reaction to those reactions has been, well, mixed. I like them, some other people like them, but some other people are quite offended by the "random search" mentality behind these ideas.
Well, prepare yourselves for another technology for exploring the wild blue yonder. A new paper in Angewandte Chemie from a group at the CEA (Gif sur Yvette, France) outlines an immunological detection scheme. They have antibodies to an imidazole derivative, and antibodies to a phenolic moeity as well. So both structures are attached to a range of functional groups and combined with heat and/or metal catalysts to see if anything happens. A sandwich assay at the end with the different antibodies gives you a yellow color only if a compound has been formed that has both ends present; that is, if a coupling reaction of some sort has occurred.
They ran 3360 reactions, each on a 100 nmol scale (there's the sensitivity of the antibodies for you). Two new reactions were discovered - an isourea synthesis (which can lead to benzoxazoles) and an alkyne reaction leading to thiazole derivatives. Neither of those is going to set the world of organic chemistry ablaze, but as a proof of concept, I'm convinced that this technique can work. So what do you do with it next?
One plan looks to be discovering new bioorthogonal reactions, couplings that can take place either inside or on the surface of living cells. The immunological detection is so sensitive that products can be teased out of all sorts of messy mixtures, apparently even cell lysates. I'd also encourage them to try some other conditions, such as various photochemical setups, to see what might be out there - it's a much less explored field than copper-catalyzed coupling reactions.
Like it or not, I think we're going to be seeing more of this sort of work. We might as well make the most of it!
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