Alkaloid research has played a significant role in the development of organic chemistry throughout its history
E Fattorusso and O Taglialatela-Scafati (eds)
Weinheim, Germany, Wiley-VCH 2008 | 665pp | ?189 (HB) ISBN 9783527315215
Reviewed by Jim Hanson
Alkaloid research has played a significant role in the development of organic chemistry throughout its history. This book brings together in a series of chapters work which is representative of modern alkaloid research and the way in which it impinges on organic chemistry.
The first section contains chapters on the structures of some biologically active alkaloids and their ecological role, for example anti-tumour alkaloids and anti-angiogenic alkaloids from marine organisms.
The second section describes modern developments in methods for extracting, detecting and elucidating the structures of alkaloids, such as LC-MS of alkaloids and the use of 15N NMR in structural studies.
The final section contains chapters on the synthesis and biosynthesis of alkaloids, for example on the synthesis of alkaloids by transition metal oxidative cyclisations, camptothecin synthesis and the daphniphyllum alkaloids.
As with any multi-author work, there are differences in the way in which individuals have interpreted their remit. Some chapters are brief, painting the area with a rather broad brush, whilst others are long and detailed.
The selection of topics represents the editors’ interests and this leads to some gaps. For example galanthamine, which is of current interest in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, receives only a passing mention, while modern biosynthetic studies with the morphine alkaloids are not covered.
Overall this is an interesting book which achieves its purpose of surveying representative examples of the broad and healthy area of current active alkaloid research.