NChem Research Highlights: Total synthesis, boron boride and sensor arrays

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Action stations at Nature Chemistry HQ today…it’s the deadline day for all the News and Views, Feature and other articles that make up the ‘front-half’ — the non-research articles — of the FIRST ISSUE. Exciting times.

This week, Steve gets to grips with more stereochemically odd natural products — not literally, as it might poison him — polychlorinated and ‘stereochemically dense’ chlorosulpholipids, a seafood toxin. The key step, an epoxide ring-opening, resulted in the wrong stereochemistry, suggesting an unusual intermediate.

You might have already seen the new form of boron that’s been reported — after all, it’s been in big Nature, the New York Times, the Conan O’Brien show and quite a swathe of blogs! But here’s my take on the new form, including how it could be the first element with ionic bonding.

Being able to detect and identify proteins could help in diagnosing certain diseases, and many people are working towards sensor arrays that mimic how mammalian noses work (not sure I could smell the difference between too many proteins…). A new system has been developed that used quadruplexes of DNA arranged in a square. Each DNA strand has a fluorophore that gives off a different colour depending on which protein it’s interacting with.

And finally…it’s your last chance to enter our fabulous lab-coat picture competition! You can check out some of the entries (and our tea-pot cosy) on our Facebook group page.


Neil Withers (Associate Editor, Nature Chemistry)