Researchers develop a generic and potentially inexpensive method of separating chiral molecules using magnets
Joanna Cummings |
Chiral molecules have the potential to “flip” and exist as different enantiomers – non-superimposable mirror images of the original molecule with an identical chemical structure. Though these molecules look identical, their different “handedness” can have dramatic biological effects – as was made painfully clear by the thalidomide scandal. In the 1950s and 1960s, the drug was marketed to pregnant women to treat morning sickness, which its “right-handed” enantiomer did well. But the “left-handed” enantiomer caused thousands of babies worldwide to be born with malformed limbs.
Today, the separation of chiral molecules is an expensive process, but an international team of researchers has developed a generic and cheaper method of separating chiral molecules, using magnets (1).
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