Steroid mass production

A scalable synthesis for polyhydroxylated steroids, which are used in heart-failure medications and other pharmaceuticals, has been developed by chemists at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Previous synthetic routes to these compounds required so many steps as to be impractical on a large scale, explains Phil Baran, but we were able to come up with a completely new strategy. The team thus used carbon-hydrogen functionalization and long-range functional group transformations to synthesize the most hydroxylated steroid known ouabagenin. This compound is a chemical cousin of an arrow poison once used by Somali tribes, which was developed into a heart drug. The team's 21-step synthesis will facilitate the development of analogs of these compounds for testing as novel drugs.