Direct Synthesis of 5-Arylbarbituric Acids

Barbiturates are central nervous system (CNS) depressants having a well-known sedative, hypnotic and anxiolytic effect. First synthesized in 1864 by Adolph von Bayer, barbiturates have been used as sedatives and anticonvulsants since the discovery of the pharmacological properties of barbital by Emil Fischer in 1903. More recently, 5-arylbarbituric acids have found use in cancer treatment and in in vivo imaging as matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) inhibitors. The synthesis of barbituric acids essentially relies on the base-promoted condensation of urea with substituted malonate esters, which is highly moisture-sensitive and generally suffers from low yields. Recently, the group of Professor Hon Wai Lam at the University of Nottingham (UK) has developed a conceptually novel approach to the barbiturate ring.

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