Chiral Chemistry Enables Firms To Try New Twists On Old Drugs

Sidebar: New Ways To Separate Enantiomers Photo: Malboro Photo SUCCESS IN SEPARATION: Sepracor researchers found that the S-enantiomer of Prozac worked well in preventing migraine, says Dean Handley. A trend in the pharmaceutical industry toward increasing use of chiral chemistry techniques is leading to safer new drugs, while coaxing novel uses from existing blockbuster compounds. These techniques separate drugs that occur in two mirror-image molecular forms, called enantiomers. Louis Pasteur

Ricki Lewis
Jun 22, 1997

Sidebar: New Ways To Separate Enantiomers

Photo: Malboro Photo
Dean Handley
SUCCESS IN SEPARATION: Sepracor researchers found that the S-enantiomer of Prozac worked well in preventing migraine, says Dean Handley.
A trend in the pharmaceutical industry toward increasing use of chiral chemistry techniques is leading to safer new drugs, while coaxing novel uses from existing blockbuster compounds. These techniques separate drugs that occur in two mirror-image molecular forms, called enantiomers. Louis Pasteur discovered such dual compounds that consist of two enantiomers, called racemates, in 1848.


INTRICATE ROLES: Louisiana State's Isiah Warner notes that determining the side effects of enantiomers is not always a straightforward task.
Unraveling the roles of enantiomers is not always straightforward. "In many cases, the mirror-image enantiomer of an active compound is innocuous. In other cases, it may be extremely toxic and cause side effects. And together, the enantiomers might produce effects that are not common to either alone,"...

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