Bristol-led researchers achieve significant steps in prostaglandin synthesis
17 August 2012
Prostaglandins are some of the most important molecules in biology and medicine as they regulate a broad range of activities in the body, including blood circulation, digestion and reproduction. However since these molecules cannot be isolated from natural sources in sufficient quantities they have to be synthesised, but the routes are lengthy.
From research funded by the EPSRC and the European Research Council Professor Varindar Aggarwal FRS and colleagues recently reported in Nature a concise synthesis of prostaglandin PGF2a. The new process uses a new disconnection which enables them to complete the synthesis in just seven steps. In a follow-up patent the authors have described the application of this technology to a simple synthesis of prostaglandin-based drugs. The methodology should now make it easier to discover new biologically active prostaglandin analogues. It is a major advance and represents a step change in the synthesis of this important class of compounds and may mean that many more people could be treated for the same cost.