Alkaloids; Strychnine, Codeine, Heroin, and Morphine

The featured molecules this month come from the article "The Conversion of Carboxylic Acids to Ketones: A Repeated Discovery" by John W. Nicholson and Alan D. Wilson. The authors describe the repeated discovery of this reaction and illustrate its central role in Woodward's total synthesis of strychnine. Strychnine is a member of a large class of nitrogen heterocycles known as alkaloids, a name derived from the fact that all produce basic solutions in water. Other well-known members of this class of compounds, all of which are pharmacologically active, are nicotine, atropine (deadly nightshade), quinine, lysergic acid, cocaine, and the three structurally similar compounds codeine, heroin, and morphine.
Alkaloids; Strychnine, Codeine, Heroin, and Morphine   
(Interactive Simulation (1))