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The unambiguous determination of absolute structure is important not only for synthetic and natural product chemists but also for the pharmaceutical industry, where opposite enantiomers of a drug can have quite different biological properties.
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The active components from the extracts of Digitalis – cardiotonic steroid glycosides - have been referred to as the most ingested drugs in medicine, e.g., for heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms. Their positive inotropic activity has been attributed largely to a high affinity inhibitory interaction with the extracellular surface of the membrane-bound sodium pump Na+/K+-ATPase. Although several imaginative total synthesis protocols have been described, Brian Heasley, Scynexis, Inc., NC, USA, describes in his review…