Synthetic Drugs, Metallic Wonders And Molecular Synthesis

Five Harvard faculty members took inventory of the latest synthetic drugs and metallic wonders of chemical engineering in a symposium for more than 130 people yesterday.

"In the next 30 years, medicine is going to depend more on molecular synthesis in what will be an explosive and therapeutic time," said Emery Professor of Chemistry Elias J. Corey. Molecular synthesis is a process by which scientists create materials with specific properties by altering or building their sub-molecular structure.

The symposium, "Man-Made Molecules and Materials: From the Bizarre to the Bazaar gave the five scientists an opportunity to show off their latest synthetically engineered molecules.

Using these engineering techniques, scientists hope to engineer a new line of antiviral agents to combat AIDS to supplement the engineered drug acyclovir already in use. Other synthetic drugs in use today include cyclosporin, a drug used in transplant patients and aspirin, Corey said.

In addition to medical applications, molecular synthesis also has use in the semi-conductor and metals industry, panel members said.


Metallic glass has the potential to eliminate heat loss in transformers that currently wastes 1.5 percent of our country's power, according to Professor of Physics David R. Nelson, while Physics Professor Bertrand I. Halperin stressed the application of ultra-small structures in semi-conductors.

"They are useful particularly for electronic and optical devices in terms of the increased speed and complexity they allow," he said.