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Option D. D.8 drug action. Some aspects of molecular structure that affect drug action . stereo isomerism geometric ( cis /trans) optical isomerism ( enantiomers ) s train in ring structure molecular polarity ( solubility and uptake).

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Option d

Option D

D.8 drug action

Some aspects of molecular structure that affect drug action
Some aspects of molecular structure that affect drug action

  • stereo isomerism

    • geometric (cis/trans)

    • optical isomerism (enantiomers)

  • strain in ring structure

  • molecular polarity (solubility and uptake)

Example geometric isomerism in diaminedichloro platinum ii
Example: geometric isomerism in diaminedichloro platinum (II)



cannot act as an antic-cancer drug as nitrogen atoms are too far apart to react with DNA – no pharmaceutical effect

Inorganic transition complex with a square planar shape, 900 bond angles and dative covalent bonds

  • can act as an anti-cancer drug as, because of its orientation, it can bond with DNA in the nucleus of cancer cells.

Optical isomerism
Optical isomerism

  • Synthesis of chiral drug molecules in laboratories produces racemic mixtures i.e. equimolar solution of both enantiomers.

  • Such drugs were often prescribed as racemic mixtures.

  • Each enantiomer has different biological activity as they behave differently with other chiral molecules.

  • Some enantiomers are harmful.

Optical isomerism1
Optical isomerism

Carbon atoms in ring structures can also be chiral if the part of the ring on one side of the carbon atom is different from the part of the ring on the other side of the carbon atom.

Each side of a ring is classified a different group if, when moving around the ring from the chiral centre, the order of atoms is different each way. It is said the chiral atom has two different views around the ring.


Identify the chiral carbon in the structure below

  • One enantiomer alleviates morning sickness in pregnant women

  • other enantiomer causes deformities in the limbs of the fetus

More examples of chiral drugs
More examples of chiral drugs

  • Ibuprofen: one enantiomer is more effective than the other

  • DOPA: this is a drug which is used in the treatment of Parkinson disease; one isomer is effective whilst the other isomer has no physiological effect

  • Fluoxetine.

  • Morphine: one form is analgesic, the other is not.

Enantiomerism in heroine
enantiomerism in heroine

Effect of chirality on development
Effect of chirality on development

  • Each enantiomer of a chiral drug must be tested for its physiological effects.

  • Modern drugs may have only one enantiomeric form instead of a racemic mixture. This achieved by using chiral auxiliaries – see D9.

Beta lactam ring in penicillin
beta-lactam ring in penicillin

a four-membered square ring structure which contains an amide group

(-CONH-) and consists of one nitrogen atom and three carbon atoms (and two hydrogen atoms).

Beta lactam ring
beta-lactam ring

  • For each carbon and the nitrogen atom, identify the type of hybridization and preferred bond angles around each atom.

  • Referring to bond angles say why the ring is a strained structure

Beta lactam ring1
beta-lactam ring

  • Strains makes ring reactive.

  • Ring easily breaks open in the amide group, for instance, in the presence of an enzyme such as transpeptidase, to form covalent bonds with the transpeptidase.

  • This deactivates the transpeptidase that synthesizes the bacterial cell walls, thus inhibiting the growth of bacterial cell walls.

  • As a result water enters the bacteria cell causing it to burst due to increased osmotic pressure.

Heroin more potent than morphine
Heroin more potent than morphine



Both hydroxyl groups replaced by ester groups

  • Two hydroxyl groups

Heroin more potent than morphine1
Heroin more potent than morphine

  • Diamorphine is less polar than morphine as it does not have the polar hydroxyl groups anymore but two non-polar ester groups.

  • Diamorphine (heroin) cannot form any hydrogen bonds and is therefore less soluble in polar substances such as water but more soluble in non-polar fatty tissue, which makes up the central nervous system.

  • Heroin can therefore cross the blood-brain barrier faster/more easily than morphine.