Catalyst precursors from blood

My wife is a hematologist, so we talk about blood disorders all the time. Since she has a biochemistry background, it is easy for us to communicate on a level that is somewhat molecular in nature. I lose her when we start considering clinical aspects of blood disease – this is way over my head.

In regards to molecular components of blood, I was glad to hear Professor Rudi Fasan’s advances in the area of cyclopropanation while in Rochester last week. Myoglobin is what links Rudi’s work with my post-dinner discourses with Jovana. In his Angewandte paper, which was published at the beginning of this year, Rudy and his team were able to show that myoglobin catalyzes cyclopropanation of olefins. Coupled with its function as oxygen carrier in the heart and skeletal muscles, this cyclopropanation business makes myglobin ever more interesting. Scalability and surprising robustness (up to 46,800 TON) are the most remarkable features of this system. I particularly liked the rational approach to improving catalytic efficiency through site-directed mutagenesis. As you might imagine, there are just so many reactions out there that involve activation of diazo compounds using transition metals. I think that the future for atom transfer processes using the constituents of blood is a bright one.


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