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Biotransformations in Preparative Organic Chemistry.

Biotransformations in Preparative Organic Chemistry.

Biotransformations in Preparative Organic Chemistry. By H.G. Davies, R.H. Green, D.R. Kelly, and S.M. Roberts, (Academic Press, London, 1989. Best Synthetic Methods series 267 pp., Foreword and Preface. UK Pounds 39.50).

The Best Synthetic Methods series from Academic is coming to be recognized among organic chemists as one of the more useful recent contributions on the subject of organic synthesis. This new volume in the series continues the philosophy of presenting and discussing reactions from the point of view of the working organic chemist, an approach which is particularly valuable in the present context as the subject covered has not previously been considered by many to be part of traditional organic chemistry.

The subject of biotransformation is alien to many organic chemists, an unfortunate state of affairs since, as this volume clearly demonstrates, it is quite often simply the best way of performing a particular reaction, especially if chirality is involved. This book contains an introduction to biotransformation by both isolated enzymes and intact microorganisms, followed by a discussion of the reactions of biotransformation according to type: hydrolysis and condensation reactions applied to esters, amides, epoxides and nitriles; reduction of carbonyl and alkenic bonds; oxidation reactions including alcohol and aldehyde oxidations, Baeyer-Villiger oxidation, hydroxylation and epoxidation reactions, and oxidation at sulphur; and other biotransformations such as aldol condensations and O- and N-dealkylation reactions.

Throughout the text, the importance of yield and enantiomeric purity is stressed: the inclusion of many procedures with full practical details is very welcome, as this information is particularly valuable in assessing the feasibility of a particular process. Some mechanistic discussion is also provided, but in a book of this practical nature is rightly limited to supporting the central theme of preparative value, and does not intrude into the flow of the text. Also of great value is the inclusion of many tables with details of the range or substrates which have been subjected to a given biotransformation process, and the products resulting therefrom. This data can be of key importance in extending any biotransformation procedure to new substrates.

This book is timely, well written, and a worthy addition to the |Best Synthetic Methods' series. It is groundbreaking in that it treats biotransformation from the viewpoint of the organic chemist as a synthetic method like any other, which can be chosen or not to perform a reaction: the book then goes on to give us in a clear, concise manner the rationale for choosing biotransformation as the best synthetic method in a large number of examples. For these reasons, this book should be included in the library of anyone engaged in organic synthesis, and is essential reading for practitioners of the art of the synthesis of chiral molecules.
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Author:Holland, H.L.
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Feb 1, 1991
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