Large spiroclip research grant

Posted on 14 December 2017

Dr Will Unsworth and Prof Richard Taylor have been awarded £451,905 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to support research into “Spiroclip Technology: from Catalogue to Spirocycle in One Step”.

Diagram of a catalogue pointing to a chemical reaction

In order to meet growing worldwide healthcare and food-security demands, rapid access to new 3-D organic compounds for biological screening is key to continued progress in pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries.  However, current synthetic approaches to such compounds are often time-consuming and labour-intensive – this is particularly true for a class of compounds called spirocycles, systems that have recently attracted a great deal of interest in industrial and academic laboratories.

The main aim of this exciting research programme is to develop novel chemistry to make a diverse range of complex spirocyclic structures directly from simple catalogue starting materials. The new 'Catalogue to Complexity' concept will be based on the develop of a new family of bespoke chemical reagents, known colloquially as ‘Spiroclips’.

Lead investigator Dr Will Unsworth said: "We aim to design new and fast ways to make these interesting compounds – but we also want them to be easily performed on large scale so that industry will use them to develop new compounds for drug and agrochemical testing." 

Collaborations have been established with key partner companies to test whether the compounds produced can be used in new technologies such as medicines and crop protection products. A further collaboration with a fine chemical company will make the new Spiroclip reagents commercially available, helping increase their use in related projects around the world.