MAY 06, 2022 5:15 PM PDT

Scientists discover new methods of production for Sulphur-based medications

WRITTEN BY: Mandy Woods

Modern medicine has drastically changed since humans discovered the first ancient treatment methods. Herbal remedies and concoctions over time have gone from foraged flora and local ingredients to pills produced en masse, with more capabilities than their herbal counterparts. Part of today’s advancements in society have been due to increased research into science and medicine for today and the future.

A recent study shows how scientists continue to identify critical components in building and creating certain medicines, in this case using Sulphur.

Whenever a new drug is discovered or created, there is a vital portion of that drug biochemically derived from the source it is meant to treat. That portion of the drug is known as the “pharmacophore” and plays a crucial role in modern drug discovery. New pharmacophores are the goal of drug discovery.

Sulphur-derived pharmacophores are very versatile and considered promising by drug developers, but are rare due to the difficulty of their synthesis. However, scientists at the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore have constructed new generation methods for these pharmacophores. 

The drug discovery process begins as synthesis and involves testing on applicable candidates with variations of pharmacophores for the ideal sequence of effectiveness. The significant discovery here for Sulphur-based pharmacophores is how compatible with alternate drug compounds they can be. With certain compounds, even though they have the same chemical composition, their different arrangement of atoms means that each form may behave differently. In turn, one may help change the course of a disease, whereas the other may be inactive or even toxic. 

Being able to synthesize these efficiently could mean fewer side effects and more effective interactions between compounds.

Scientists had already developed a catalyst called pentanidium in a previous study that can induce asymmetric synthesis and was chosen as a catalyst in this chemical reaction. Asymmetric synthesis is a chemical reaction resulting in a single form rather than a mixture of forms. Testing against a current arthritis medication has already resulted in creating several new pharmacophores for future drug compounds.

Various methods and theories were tested, including the density functional theory; a theory that successfully calculates the electronic structures of atoms, molecules, and solid materials. Testing the catalyst against this theory resulted in a strong formation of halogen bonds. 

Halogen intermolecular bonds are used in crystal engineering and the preparation of cocrystals (and were recently adopted for the rational design of reaction catalysts), yet their potential in their development is still in its infancy. 

Approaching pharmacophores from this method and viewpoint allows for variations in the execution of production of new drugs, but also to see how they can pair and improve existing medications to date.


Sources: Science Daily, Science, ScienceDirect

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Mandy (She/Her) is a Scientific Writer and an active Field Archaeologist. She has worked in the Southwest, Midwest, and Great Basin for Historical Archaeology and Resource Management. She received her B.A. from the University of New Mexico with a focus in Archaeology and History. In her free time, she is outdoors with her two dogs, Nala and Nova. She channels her passion for nature and exploration into her career.
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