Cationic Cobalt Complexes for the Catalytic Asymmetric Hydrogenation of Pharmaceutically Relevant Material

Princeton University Background
The asymmetric hydrogenation of olefins is one of the most powerful reactions for the synthesis of single enantiomer products. Traditionally, Schrock-Osborn type catalysts have been employed for asymmetric hydrogenation. While effective, these catalysts carry a high cost, given the rhodium metal center. In view of these economic disadvantages, catalysts employing more abundant transition metals remain elusive.
Technology Overview
Researchers at Princeton University’s Department of Chemistry have developed cationic cobalt complexes for asymmetric hydrogenation. Previously-unknown precatalyst structures were developed that offer considerable advantage over state-of-the-art rhodium precatalysts used in industry with respect to ease-of-handling and cost. Cobalt complexes are air and moisture-stable and show excellent activity and selectivity in a range of solvents including but not limited to methanol, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, and acetonitrile. Further, the catalysts are active in the presence of a variety of functional groups including primary amines.
This invention will give rise to a new class of cobalt precatalysts that will impact asymmetric synthesis in both academic and industrial settings. The implementation of the reported cobalt precatalysts in industrial hydrogenation reactions will enable late-stage modification of functionally rich molecules in API development. The cost of cobalt compared to rhodium will offer a considerable economic advantage in large-scale syntheses.
Stage of Development
Cobalt precatalysts have been successfully synthesized and applied in the asymmetric synthesis of pharmaceutical products.

Increased air and moisture-stability
Decreased costs


Asymmetric hydrogenation of alkenes
Access to diverse precatalyst structures
Pharmaceutical synthesis

Princeton is currently seeking commercial partners for the further development and commercialization of this opportunity.

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