Sunday, March 23, 2008

Expanding the UsefulChem Collaboration to Teaching Labs

A few weeks ago I received a very interesting email from Brent Friesen at Dominican University. He mused:
I am trying to put together a bridge between the type of opensource research you are instigating and the traditional Sophomore Organic Chemistry lab. There are over 4,000 college and universities in the United States - all of them teach Sophomore Organic Chemistry lab. How can we harness this resource? .....

SOC labs must fulfill 4 criteria:
1) inexpensive reagents and equipment
2) fit into the time constraints of 1 3-hour period per week.
3) Must be a robust reaction with fairly stable products. It doesn’t have to be “foolproof” but that helps.
4) Compatible with equipment, glassware, procedures that student know how to use and do.

Bottom Line: I am definitely interested in developing collaborative projects, especially if they can be performed as part of a Sophomore Organic Chemistry laboratory curriculum.
This is extremely encouraging news for open scientific collaborations and I am very impressed with Brent's initiative! It certainly is more work for him compared to maintaining the status quo.

Kevin Owens and I have discussed this possibility for some time now and he is willing to contribute by carrying out mass spectrometry if required.

Brent and I further discussed the applicability of the Ugi reaction that we perform in my lab because of its simplicity - 4 components are mixed together in methanol at room temperature and a Ugi product often precipitates within days, requiring only filtering to isolate. (see EXP150 for a good example)

However, one major limitation of the Ugi reaction for a teaching lab is the terrible stench of most isonitriles, one of the four key components. One way around this is to use isonitriles that don't stink, such as TOSMIC.

So as a starting point, we would like to start with a Ugi reaction which involves TOSMIC and has lead to a precipitate in our lab. There is only one example so far: 171H.

According to the lab notebook, all starting materials dissolved easily and a precipitate appeared after 2 days. The precipitate has not yet been isolated and characterized. Hopefully it will prove to be pure Ugi product, as other similar Ugi reactions have done.

It turns out that many of the top ranking compounds from Rajarshi's falcipain-2 docking run (V2) contain TOSMIC as the isonitrile. Phil Rosenthal at UCSF is still up for testing compounds for anti-malarial activity. Wouldn't it be a testament to the power of open collaborative science if a decent anti-malarial lead was uncovered through the routine teaching of undergraduate organic chemistry labs?

At the very least I'll bet it would be rewarding for the students involved.

Brent has placed the orders from Sigma-Aldrich and is moving full steam ahead. He recently wrote to me:
You know, I'm ready to dance and you are the only dance partner who seems to be ready and willing. Let's figure out a way to adapt the Ugi reaction to Sophomore Organic Chemistry laboratory and give it a try!

I would like to plan it for the week of April 7 and the following week...
Does not give us much time, but it can be done.
Keep track of Brent's activities on his blog.

TOSMIC InChIKey CFOAUYCPAUGDFF-UHFFFAOYAC InChI=1/C9H9NO2S/c1-8-3-5-9(6-4-8)13(11,12)7-10-2/h3-6H,7H2,1H3

Labels: , , , ,

Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.5 License