Scientists at Yale University have developed the first practical method to create a compound called huperzine A in the lab. The compound, which occurs naturally in a species of moss found in China, is an enzyme inhibitor that has been used to treat Alzheimer’s disease in China since the late 1990s and is sold in the U.S. as a dietary supplement to help maintain memory. Scientists believe it could also potentially combat the effects of chemical warfare agents.
Until now, researchers have only been able to derive small amounts of the compound directly from the Huperzia serrata plant, or had to resort to lengthy and cumbersome methods to synthesize it in the lab.
Now researchers at Yale have developed a practical and cost-effective method to synthesize huperzine A in the lab. The process requires just eight steps and produces a yield of 40 percent. Previously, the best synthetic techniques had required twice as many steps and achieved yields of only two percent.
“Being able to synthesize large amounts of huperzine A in the lab is crucial because the plant itself, Continue reading →