Carbon–Carbon Bond Reaction is Vital to Small-Molecule Drug Discovery

A new carbon–carbon bond reaction is fundamental to how small-molecule drugs are made and discovered. The new reaction, created in the lab of Professor Andrew McNally at Colorado State University, is analogous to the palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling reaction, which makes carbon–carbon bonds using the transition metal palladium as a point of contact. This reaction, however, does not work as well for coupling pyridine rings.

McNally collaborated with organic chemist Robert Paton, who specializes in quantum chemistry. Paton and his team validated the use of phosphorus.

“This is the first study we know of that gives us a complete understanding of how these bonds are made,” McNally said. “People had viewed these phosphorus-mediated reactions as somewhat esoteric, with no practical significance. The model we developed has also allowed us to develop other reactions that will be valuable to the pharmaceutical industry that are ongoing in our laboratory.”

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