One of three molecules for this week
January 16, 2012
Image of Methotrexate 3D Image of Methotrexate
Figure 1: Folic acid
Image of Methotrexate 3D Image of Methotrexate
Figure 2: Methotrexate
Image of Methotrexate 3D Image of Methotrexate
Figure 3: Pemetrexed

Folic acid, or vitamin B9, is essential for many bodily functions, including DNA synthesis, repair, and methylation. In 1941, H. K. Mitchell and co-workers isolated it by extracting 4 tons of spinach. In 1948, much work on folic acid was published, including the determination of its structure by J. H. Mowat and colleagues. Closely related methotrexate is an “antifolate” that can be used to treat cancer, but it has toxic side effects. It is also used to treat some autoimmune diseases and to terminate pregnancy. The more recent, less toxic pemetrexed, another antifolate chemotherapy drug, was approved by the FDA in 2004.

MOTW update:
August 1, 2022

Methotrexate1 is an “antifolate” medication used in cancer chemotherapy; but it has toxic side effects and must be closely monitored. Recently, Yaman Göksel and colleagues at the Technical Institute of Denmark (Lyngby) and other Danish institutions reported the development of a rapid, relatively inexpensive electrochemically assisted surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy method for detecting methotrexate in human serum in a clinically relevant concentration range.

1. CAS Reg. No. 59-05-2.

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