Synthetic organic chemistry: drugs

In this series of articles on Synthetic organic chemistry we have seen use of organic chemistry in synthesis of products like explosive, dyes and polymers. Now, in this article we are going to see application of organic chemistry in the synthesis of drugs.

In earlier days, drugs were not synthesised from organic compound, they were just prepared by the use of natural and Ayurveda techniques.  Necessity for drug synthesis was felt as new diseases started to appear and older resources were not able to deal with them. It was around first half of nineteenth century when men like Richard Willstatter started to perform experiments with organic molecule for synthesis of drugs. At start insufficient knowledge about this subject troubled the organic chemist but theirhard work turned out to be a great success with a lot of benefits for chemist of 20th century.

Here are some examples of organic compounds which were used for the synthesis of drugs in earlier times.

  • Chlorophyll: Chlorophyll,the green, light absorbing catalyst present in plants was one of the first organic compound used in synthesis of drugs. The Germen chemist Richard Willstatter did experiment on chlorophyll and made possible production of carbohydrates and carbon dioxide by utilizing the sunlight.
  • Nucleotides: Structure of nucleotides was studied by Russian-American chemistPhoebus Aaron Theodor Levene. His studies resulted in the discovery of giant molecules nucleic acids. His studies were appreciated and worked on by other chemists who succeeded in the formation of various nucleotides and other related compounds.

Despite, these two organic compounds, chemist made use of many other useful organic compounds for the synthesis of drugs. For Instance, study of structure of carotenoids by Swiss chemist Paul Karrer d which is a plant pigment and closely resembles to vitamin A. But in the casesynthetics of drugs from organic substance surpassed natural drugs.


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