Dr. Joseph Clark, associate professor of chemistry in Marquette University’s Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, has received a $1.8 million Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award from the National Institutes of Health for his research to modernize the synthesis of selectively deuterated small molecules. Recently, deuterated small molecules have emerged as novel drug leads, creating a demand for new techniques for precision deuteration in drug synthesis.
Deuterium is a naturally occurring isotope of hydrogen and contains an additional neutron which makes it twice as heavy. When deuterium is precisely installed into a drug molecule, the metabolic profile of the drug can be changed. Significantly, this modification can lead to safer drug candidates with improved metabolic properties without sacrificing drug potency.