Monday, September 22, 2014

Honing Halophilicity

Let's say you have a late-stage drug candidate, with an alcohol, an olefin, and a pyridine. Now you toss in one equivalent of a chlorinating reagent.

Which functional group gets halogenated first?

Babak Borhan and colleagues from Michigan State and Dow may have your answer. In a recent JACS full article, they disclose the HalA (halenium affinity) scale, a DFT-calculated delta to describe the relative reactivity of various groups to an incoming halogen source. They back up their calculations with NMR competition studies, showing, for example, that two structurally similar molecules have a rather skewed 7:1 equilibrium, as predicted by a 1.1 kcal / mol difference in HalA:

Borhan et. al., JACS 2014
Using 500 computationally-evaluated functional chlorenium "acceptors" (Lewis bases), Borhan and colleagues create a chart to help answer our initial question: What reacts first?

I'm certain even more detailed versions of this chart are currently underway. I wonder how well it would extend to prediction of methyl or trifluoromethyl group additions?


  1. This is a thermodynamic study - so real rates may vary significantly.