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Bridged bicycloalkanes such as bicyclo[1.1.1]pentanes (BCPs) and bicyclo[3.1.1]heptanes (BCHeps) are important motifs in contemporary drug design due to their potential to act as bioisosteres of disubstituted benzene rings, often resulting in compounds with improved physicochemical and pharmacokinetic properties. Access to such motifs with proximal nitrogen atoms (i.e. α-amino/amido bicycloalkanes) is highly desirable for drug discovery applications, but their synthesis is challenging. Here we report an approach to α-amino BCPs and BCHeps through the visible-light enabled addition of α-amino radicals to the interbridgehead C–C bonds of [1.1.1] and [3.1.1]propellane respectively. The reaction proceeds under exceptionally mild conditions and displays broad substrate scope, providing access to an array of medicinally-relevant BCP and BCHep products. Experimental and computational mechanistic studies provide evidence for a radical chain pathway which depends critically on the stability of the α-amino radical, as well as effective catalyst turnover.

Original publication




Journal article


Chemical Science


Royal Society of Chemistry

Publication Date