Nitrogen heterocycles are ubiquitously present both in natural products and in the man-made bioactive compounds. Despite of the diversity of known heterocyclic systems, it is remarkable how few of them are routinely used in medicinal chemistry. Part of the reason is that practical methods leading to these heterocycles are either absent altogether or lacking the generality required for their widespread utilization. Development of such methods is the main goal of the current proposal. We begin with cycloaddition processes for the synthesis of azoles. 1,2,3-Triazoles have witnessed a resurgence of interest during the last several years. Nevertheless, in the vast majority of publications they remain reactivity cul-de-sacs: permanent, inert connectors that unite molecular fragments with a desired function. This is not surprising when one takes into account the exceptional stability of these nitrogen heterocycles: they are exceedingly resistant to thermal degradation and are not affected by severe hydrolytic, reductive, and oxidative conditions. However, the few notable exceptions to this general truth provide unique opportunities for exploration of synthetic transformations which utilize 1,2,3-triazoles themselves as energetic, but reasonably stable progenitors of reactive intermediates which give rise to a plethora of different heterocyclic compounds. In addition to developing synthetic methodologies, we will develop methods for studying biological systems using organic azides. We will endeavor to develop new bioorthogonal catalytic transformations through studies in organometallic chemistry and chemical biology. Ultimately, we hope to give the synthetic organic, biological, and materials chemistry communities a range of tools for creating functional structures.

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We propose to develop novel chemical reactions for synthesis of heterocyclic compounds with biological activity. We will also develop chemical transformations that are compatible with physiological conditions and allow tracking of biological molecules in living systems in order to study in vivo chemical events, such as modification of complex biomolecules (proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates), which are often a hallmark of the earliest stages of cancer, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
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Synthetic and Biological Chemistry A Study Section (SBCA)
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Lees, Robert G
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Scripps Research Institute
La Jolla
United States
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