It has been more than ten years since chemists first started to search for synthetic routes to a group of compounds made by Streptomyces bacteria, the tetrapetalones. This family of natural products are inhibitors of plant lipoxygenase enzyme, which is equivalent to human enzymes involved in the inflammatory response. There are have been numerous synthetic dead-ends. Now, John Wood and co-workers at Baylor University, USA, have come up with total syntheses tetrapetalone A and C. Analogs of these compounds might be tested and developed into pharmaceuticals that reduce the production of inflammatory leukotrienes and so could be used to treat asthma.
Tetrapetalones ten years in the making