Patent Watch

August 27, 2012

Here’s a safer route to a recently revived drug. Temozolomide (1) is a drug that was discovered more than 30 years ago. In the past 10 years, it has been used to treat aggressive brain tumors. S. Turchetta and co-inventors summarize several processes for preparing temozolomide, all of which use toxic reagents such as MeNCO or MeNHNH2 or generate large amounts of chemical waste. They describe a safer route to 1.

The inventors’ method starts with the preparation of carbamoyl compound 4 from amide 2 by treating it with succinimidyl reagent 3 in the presence of a base. The product is isolated in 88% yield and 96.9% purity by HPLC. Reagent 3 is a nonexplosive, crystalline solid with comparatively low toxicity and is much safer than MeNCO for this reaction.

In the next stage, the amine group in 4 is converted to diazonium salt 5 via a diazotization reaction. The details of this reaction are not described, but reference is made to a method reported in 1997 (Wang, Y., et al. J. Org. Chem. 1997, 62, 7288–7294). Compound 5 is not isolated; when acid is added, it cyclizes by the reaction of the diazonium group with one of the two amide groups to give products 1 and 6 in approximately equal amounts. The desired product 1 is formed by the reaction of the secondary amide group; when the primary amide reacts, the product is its isomer, 6.

Products 1 and 6 are separated by passing the acidified reaction mixture from the diazotization reaction over a column of a polymeric adsorbent resin. The material used in the example is XAD 1600 from Rohm & Haas; other resins are covered in the claims. Compound 6 elutes from the column first; then 1 is eluted with acidified aq EtOH. After separation, 1 is recrystallized from acidified acetone and isolated in 30% yield with 99.9% purity.

The process provides an alternative, safer route to temozolomide, but half of intermediate 4 is lost as unwanted product 6. [Chemi S.p.A. [Cinisello Balsamo, Italy]. US Patent 8,232,392, July 31, 2012; Keith Turner)

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