One of the main research themes of the Gouverneur group is fluorine chemistry with an extensive research program aimed at developing novel synthetic methodologies for the preparation of fluorinated targets. Fluorine can be highly advantageous in pharmaceutical and agrochemical compounds as its presence can dramatically alter chemical and biological properties, including stability, lipophilicity and bioavailability. A recent survey has estimated that as many as 30-40% of agrochemicals and 20% of pharmaceuticals on the market contain fluorine, including half of the top drugs sold in 2005. As natural fluoroorganic compounds are extremely rare, major advances rely heavily on synthetic organic chemistry. In the group, we develop novel fluorine chemistry for the preparation of fine enantiopure fluorinated building blocks and drug-type targets. Our research programs are designed to build knowledge on how fluorinated stereogenic centers affect drug potency and other performance compounds.
A major spin-off avenue of research resulting from our activities is the preparation of [18F]-labeled radiopharmaceuticals suitable for Positron Emission Tomography (PET), a non-invasive diagnostic tool enabling the study of biochemical and physiological processes. With a half-life of circa 110 min [18F], it is critical to develop radiochemical methods featuring late introduction of the [18F] substituent within the tracer. This chemistry is designed with the aim of using PET to accelerate drug development.