Scientists make medicine from chemical waste

Scientists make medicine from chemical waste


During their study, Polish researchers claim to have found a way to use chemical waste as raw materials for the manufacture of drugs. They also used the same process to theorize the manufacture of chemicals for use in agriculture.

10,000 potential feedback entries

Chemistry is a discipline whose applications relate to many fields, including the manufacture of containers and food packaging or even food. However, waste is very often considered useless, even dangerous (or toxic) in some cases. However, a study led by the Institute of Organic Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences in Warsaw (Poland) tends to provide some answers in terms of circularity.

Published in the journal Nature on April 27, 2022, this work relates to a program containing a list of chemical reactions that are considered viable. The software in question contains constraints whose objective is to frame the use of toxic chemicals. Concretely, the software can determine the waste that can be used as raw materials. According to the researchers, it is a question of using these substances in order to manufacture drugs and agricultural chemicals. They conjure up a database of 10,000 potential reaction entries. However, each of these entries gives information about the products obtained.

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A score to assess reactions

First, the scientists worked on a total of 189 chemical substances that in 2022 are considered to be common waste. For each of these wastes, tests were carried out thanks to the program in order to understand the reaction. Based on the results, the researchers eliminated any products that did not resemble drugs or potentially valuable agricultural chemicals. According to the study, the method generated a large network of reactions. However, this network makes it possible to obtain the desired type of product or, if necessary, a very similar product.

For each reaction, the scientists awarded a score. The latter makes it possible to give details on the predisposition of the waste to generate an interesting product. The score in question may drop if the reaction gives rise to extreme temperatures or a toxic product. This is also the case if the product then in turn generates complex or excessive waste. Finally, the researchers have already used their method to obtain an analgesic, namely acetaminophen, better known as paracetamol.