Terpenes are a diverse group of natural substances that can be found in a variety of sources including plants, insects, and sea sponges. These compounds have proven to be valuable in the field of medicine, with some terpenes showing promise in the treatment of conditions such as cancer, malaria, and epilepsy. However, the ability to produce these substances synthetically has been a challenge for chemists.

Chemists at the University of Basel have recently made significant progress in the synthesis of terpenes. Professor Olivier Baudoin and his doctoral student Oleksandr Vyhivskyi have developed a new method of synthesis that has allowed them to produce two diterpenes, randainin D and barekoxide, artificially. This research represents a significant advancement in the field of terpene synthesis.

Randainin D is a compound that has shown potential in inhibiting the production of enzymes that are associated with various medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and cystic fibrosis. Baudoin and Vyhivskyi were able to synthesize randainin D using a combination of ring-closing metathesis and photocatalysis. This process allowed them to create the complex ring structure of the molecule and insert a crucial chemical building block known as an allyl group.

In addition to randainin D, the researchers also successfully synthesized barekoxide using their new method. While barekoxide had been previously synthesized by another research group in 2010, Baudoin and Vyhivskyi’s approach has simplified the process significantly by reducing the number of steps required. This advancement could have a significant impact on the total synthesis of this compound and pave the way for the development of new medications.

The research conducted by Professor Olivier Baudoin and Oleksandr Vyhivskyi at the University of Basel represents an important step forward in the field of terpene synthesis. Their innovative approach to total synthesis using photocatalysis shows great promise and could lead to the development of new and more effective medications in the future.


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