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Single-atom logic for heterocycle editing


Medicinal chemistry continues to be impacted by new synthetic methods. Particularly sought after, especially at the drug discovery stage, is the ability to enact the desired chemical transformations in a concise and chemospecific fashion. To this end, the field of organic synthesis has become captivated by the idea of 'molecular editing'-to rapidly build onto, change or prune molecules one atom at a time using transformations that are mild and selective enough to be employed at the late stages of a synthetic sequence. In this Review, the definition and categorization of a particularly promising subclass of molecular editing reactions, termed 'single-atom skeletal editing', are proposed. Although skeletal editing applies to both cyclic and acyclic compounds, this Review focuses on heterocycles, both for their centrality in medicinal chemistry and for the definitional clarity afforded by a focus on ring systems. A classification system is presented by highlighting methods (both historically important examples and recent advances) that achieve such transformations, with the goal to spark interest and inspire further development in this growing field.

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