Researchers at Texas A & M University have synthesized a series of Spiroepoxy-β-Lacotnes that may be of use as a DNA interpolating agent, and hence may have applications as anti-cancer agent. Now, that is quite a mouthful, so let’s take a look at some pictures. One of these molecules looks like this:
The idea is that a molecule with such a shape may be able to insert itself into the double helix structure of DNA, and hence is called an interpolating agent. Most compounds of this general form are not stable and so spontaneously decompose (not a good property for a medicine). However the one example shown above is stable, and therein lies the question. Why should this particular molecule be stable while many other, similar molecules are not? We are presently using the Gaussian 09 program to explore the stability of this molecule and several similar ones. Presently we are performing an extensive study of the potential energy surface of this molecule including several isomers. Basically we are making a map of the stability as a function of the geometry of the molecule, including the possibility of breaking and forming bonds.
Future work will include characterization of the transition states for the conversion between the various isomers, which will allow us to estimate of the rates of interconversion between them.