Cancer and Crabs

Cancer and Crabs

Author: David Bradley

Building multifunctional chiral building blocks from simple starting materials such as D-glutamic acid opens up synthetic routes to natural products.

Chemists in China have made a chiral lactam reagent from inexpensive D-glutamic acid and demonstrated its synthetic prowess in the asymmetric production of a ceramide sphingolipid. This complex natural product is the sex pheromone of hair crab, the team explains, and is one of a group of compounds to exhibit bioactivity in the control of cell growth, maturity, survival and apoptosis. It also inhibits some target enzymes and activates others. The compound has promise as a lead to novel drugs for treating cancer and cell proliferation with analogs having cytotoxicity against tumors.

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