Title: N-methylation in amino acids and peptides: Scope and limitations
Authors: Sharma A, Kumar A, Abdel Monaim SAH, Jad YE, El-Faham A, de la Torre BG, Albericio F.
Journal: Biopolymers,doi: 10.1002/bip.23110: (2018)


Active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) can be divided into two types, namely chemical and biological entities. Traditionally, the former has been associated with the so-called small molecules.

The revival of peptides in pharmaceutical industry results from their importance in many biological roles. However, low metabolic stability and the lack of oral availability of most peptides is the main drawback for peptide to fulfill that paradigmatic situation.

In this regard, efforts are being channeled into addressing this issue by introducing restrictions into the flexible peptide backbone, mainly through N-methyl amino acids (NMAAs) or development of small cyclic peptides. In many cases, both the above restrictions are combined with the aim to enhance oral availability. The synthesis of NMAAs is complex and their introduction into the peptide chain brings additional synthetic challenges and also sometimes leads to side-reactions.

Here we discuss the most efficient methods for the synthesis of NMAAs (either in solution or in solid phase) and also their introduction into peptide sequences. Special attention is also given to the detection of side reactions and the most efficient way to prevent them.