Chemicals produced by a wide variety of creatures show great promise as potential drugs, but the molecules can be difficult to harvest from nature and hard to make in the lab.
To produce such complex molecules, chemists rely heavily on protecting groups?chemical add-ons that shield specific parts of molecules from unwanted changes during the synthesis process. But, attaching and detaching protecting groups adds time and expense.
Chemist Phil Baran of The Scripps Research Institute decided to buck convention and try to make complex molecules without using protecting groups. Baran’s innovative approach, which worked in a range of compounds found in marine creatures, should make natural compounds even more appealing drug candidates.