Faster, Cheaper, Better
Are catalysts being fully exploited in small molecule drug manufacture to reduce costs and boost process speed?
Maria Luisa Palacios-Alcolado |
Chemical synthesis can be summarized as the manipulation of chemical bonds. The process is essential to many manufacturing processes, but can present tough challenges. Catalyzed reactions offer one potential solution and broadly fall into two categories: heterogeneous and homogeneous. They differ in the phase of the catalyst and the reaction medium; heterogeneous corresponds to different phases, homogenous corresponds to the same phase. Each type of catalysis has its own inherent advantages, and both can be used depending on the chemistry. To an organic chemist, it comes as no surprise that catalysis is important, offering the ability to shorten reaction times, often under more economically viable reaction conditions, while ensuring the formation of appropriate geometries. Typically, any non-catalyzed synthetic process is achieved by carrying out a reaction, followed by purification and isolation steps. The process is then repeated until the desired product is obtained. Catalysis has the potential to streamline the process by opening alternative reaction pathways or overcoming additional purification or isolation steps.
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