UCLA Chemists Are First to Synthesize Sea Sponge Molecule That Could Fight Parkinson’s; In Producing Enantiomer of Lissodendoric Acid A, Team Used Method (Employing Cyclic Allene) They Say May Help Accelerate Wider Process of Drug Discovery

Neil Garg, PhD

Organic chemists at UCLA have created the first synthetic version of a molecule recently discovered in a sea sponge that may have therapeutic benefits for Parkinson’s disease and similar disorders. The molecule, known as lissodendoric acid A, appears to counteract other molecules that can damage DNA, RNA and proteins, and even destroy whole cells. And, in an interesting twist, the research team used an unusual, long-neglected compound called a cyclic allene to control a crucial step in the chain of chemical reactions needed to produce a usable version of the molecule in the lab--an advance they say could prove advantageous in developing other complex molecules for pharmaceutical research. Their findings were published on January 19. 2023 in Science. The article is titled “Total Synthesis of Lissodendoric Acid A Via Stereospecific Trapping of a Strained Cyclic Allene.” “The vast majority of medicines today are made by synthetic organic chemistry, and one of our roles in academia is to establish new chemical reactions that could be used to quickly develop medicines and molecules with intricate chemical structures that benefit the world,” said Neil Garg (photo), PhD, UCLA’s Kenneth N. Trueblood Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and corresponding author of the study. 

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