News FocusChemistry

Race for Molecular Summits

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Science  09 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5425, pp. 184-187
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5425.184

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In the branch of chemistry called total synthesis, glory goes to the first team to reproduce a complex molecule from simple ingredients. But some in the field argue that the chemical synthesis race is intensifying while the number of targets is shrinking, because of a slowdown in searches for promising new natural products (see sidebar). As a result, more and more synthesis groups are racing after fewer inviting targets. To stay ahead, some researchers rely on safe, well-established reactions, and so make fewer fundamental discoveries along the way.