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Digitization of multistep organic synthesis in reactionware for on-demand pharmaceuticals

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Science  19 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6373, pp. 314-319
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao3466

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A plastic plan for organic synthesis

The infrastructure for chemical synthesis typically lies at either end of a spectrum: small-scale studies in ad hoc assemblies of glassware or large-scale production in capital-intensive custom reactors. Kitson et al. report a hybrid protocol that customizes a blueprint for synthesis of a target compound in a series of interconnected plastic modules, which can be assembled en masse by 3D printing (see the Perspective by Hornung). The approach, demonstrated for the commercial muscle relaxant baclofen, establishes a systematic workflow that is potentially amenable to automation: All that is necessary for synthesis and purification is the introduction of stock solutions and variation of temperature or pressure.

Science, this issue p. 314; see also p. 273

Abstract

Chemical manufacturing is often done at large facilities that require a sizable capital investment and then produce key compounds for a finite period. We present an approach to the manufacturing of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals in a self-contained plastic reactionware device. The device was designed and constructed by using a chemical to computer-automated design (ChemCAD) approach that enables the translation of traditional bench-scale synthesis into a platform-independent digital code. This in turn guides production of a three-dimensional printed device that encloses the entire synthetic route internally via simple operations. We demonstrate the approach for the γ-aminobutyric acid receptor agonist, (±)-baclofen, establishing a concept that paves the way for the local manufacture of drugs outside of specialist facilities.

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