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Synthesis and Performance of a Biomimetic Indicator for Alkylating Agents

TitleSynthesis and Performance of a Biomimetic Indicator for Alkylating Agents
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsProvencher, PA, Love, JA
JournalThe Journal of Organic Chemistry

4-(4-Nitrobenzyl)pyridine (NBP) is a colorimetric indicator compound for many types of carcinogenic alkylating agents. Because of the similar reactivity of NBP and guanine in DNA, NBP serves as a DNA model. NBP assays are used in the toxicological screening of pharmaceutical compounds, detection of chemical warfare agents, environmental hygiene technology, preliminary toxicology tests, mutagenicity of medicinal compounds, and other chemical analyses. Nevertheless, the use of NBP as a DNA model suffers from the compound’s low water solubility, its lack of reactive oxygen sites, and dissimilar steric encumbrance compared to DNA. We report herein the design and synthesis of NBP derivatives that address some of these issues. These derivatives have been tested in solution and found to be superior in the colorimetric assay of the alkylating anticancer drug cyclophosphamide. The derivatives have also been integrated into a polymeric silica material which changes color upon the exposure to dangerous alkylating agents, such as iodomethane vapor, without the need for an exogenous base. This material modernizes the NBP assay from a time-consuming laboratory analysis to a real-time solid state sensor, which requires neither solvent nor additional reagents and can detect both gas- and solution-phase alkylating agents.