Catalysis - Practical Applications

Kainic acid (chemical structure seen below) is a molecule that is of great importance to neuroscientists and other researchers. Until a short time ago, kainic acid was very hard to come by and very expensive. Kainic acid can be obtained from a seaweed that is known to grow only in the South China sea, but has been a challenge for researchers to make in the lab.

Researchers use kainic acid to study Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and other brain disorders. Understanding these diseases could lead to the development of a drug that could help or even prevent them.

Kainic acid is also being used to help develop a handheld device to measure the concentration of harmful chemicals that result from toxic algal blooms. This device could help keep humans from eating toxic seafood. Professor Stahl and students in his group are currently working on synthesizing this molecule using an environmentally sound palladium catalyzed reaction designed by the group.

Things To Think About

For more information on kainic acid:

Kainic acid available again for research

http://pubs.acs.org/cen/business/7905/7905bus2.html

Producers strive to bring kainic acid back on the market

http://pubs.acs.org/cen/business/7810/7810bus3.html