Friday, June 25, 2010

Reaction Attempts Explorer

Two months ago I reported on the Reaction Attempts project and the availability of the summary as a physical or electronic (PDF) book. The basic idea behind the project is to collect organic chemistry reaction attempts reported in Open Notebooks. This would include not only successful experiments but also those which could be categorized as failed, ambiguous, in progress, etc.

The book was organized with reactants listed alphabetically. In this way one could browse through summaries of the types of reactions being attempted by different researchers on a reactant of interest. There might be information there (what to do or what to avoid) of some use for a planned reaction. At the very least one could contact the researcher to initiate a discussion about work that had not yet been published in the traditional system.

Andrew Lang has just created a web-based tool to explore the Reaction Attempts database in much more sophisticated ways.

Here are some scenarios of how one could use it. On the left hand side of the page is a dropdown menu containing an alphabetically sorted list of all the reactants and products in the database. Lets select furfurylamine.

This immediately informs us that there are 230 reactions involving furfurylamine and it lists the schemes for all these reactions upon scrolling down. That's still a bit hard to process so a second dropdown menu appears populated with a list of other reactants or products involved with furfurylamine.

We now select boc-glycine and that narrows our search to 145 reactions.

Selecting benzaldehyde from the third dropdown menu narrows the search further to 61 reactions.

The final dropdown menu contains a short list of only isocyanides and thus all represent attempted Ugi reactions. Selecting t-butyl isocyanide gives us 56 reactions.

That means that these same 4 components were reacted together 56 times. Looking at the various reaction summaries will show that some of these are duplicates for reproducibility and others vary concentration and solvent and the effect on yield is included. This particular reaction was in fact the subject of a paper on the optimization of a Ugi reaction using an automated liquid handler.

Now here is where the design of the Explorer comes in handy. We might want to ask if the reaction proceeds as well with the other isocyanides. All we have to do is switch the final dropdown menu to ask what happens when we go from t-butyl to n-butyl isonitrile. There is a single attempt of this reaction and it is "failed" in the sense that no precipitate was obtained from the reaction mixture. This doesn't mean that the reaction didn't take place - it might be that the Ugi product was too soluble. We can quickly inspect that the concentration and solvent are in line with conditions that allowed precipitation of the t-butyl derivative.

OK lets see what happens with n-pentyl isocyanide.

It looks like it behaves just like n-butyl isocyanide: another single non-precipitation event. What about benzyl isocyanide?

This time we do get the Ugi product from a single attempt. Note the lower yield compared to the t-butyl isocyanide under similar conditions.

What about with cyclohexyl isocyanide?

This time we hit an experiment in progress. A precipitate was obtained but it was not characterized. We can click on the link to the lab notebook page (EXP232) to learn more about how long it took for the precipitate to appear but there are not enough data to draw a definite conclusion about the successs of the reaction. However, based on the results from the other precipitates in this series it is probably encouraging enough to repeat and characterize the product.

There are other sources of information here. Clicking on the image of the Ugi product takes us to its ChemSpider entry. In this case the only associated data relates to this reaction attempt.

Lets look at another scenario: reactions involving aminoacetaldehyde dimethyl acetal.

In this case we find the intersection of two Open Notebooks. The first reaction comes from Michael Wolfle from the Todd group.

The second comes from Khalid Mirza from the Bradley group.

In order to learn more about the nature of the overlap we can use the substructure search capabilities of the Reaction Explorer. Simply click on the image of the acetal and the ChemSpider entry pops up. Now click on the copy button next to the SMILES for the compound.

Paste the SMILES into the SMARTS box of the Reaction Explorer.

We get 13 reaction attempts for this query - the two we found earlier and the rest corresponding to attempts by Michael Wolfle to synthesize praziquanamine.

We learn that one connection between these two notebooks involves different attempts at synthesizing praziquantel.

Hopefully this demonstrates the value of abstracting organic chemistry reaction attempts from Open Notebooks into a machine readable format. Contributions to the database require only the ChemSpider IDs of the reactants and product and a link to the relevant lab notebook page. Reaction schemes are automatically generated by the system. More on the Reaction Attempts project here.


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