Title:
PROSTAGLANDIN SYNTHESIS AND INTERMEDIATES FOR USE THEREIN
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Fused cyclopentane—4-substituted 3,5-dioxalane lactone compounds useful as an intermediate in the synthesis of prostaglandin analogs are provided. The compounds have the formula A:

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wherein R represents an aryl group such as p-methoxyphenyl.

This compound can be reacted with a lower alkyl aluminum compound to open the dioxalane ring and reduce the lactone to lactol, without over-reducing to diol. The resulting compound can be functionalized to insert chemical side groups of target prostaglandins, adding the required α-side chain and then the required ω-side chain sequentially and independently of each other. The compounds and process are particularly suitable for preparing lubiprostone.




Inventors:
Alberico, Dino (Mississauga, CA)
Clayton, Joshua (Oakville, CA)
Gorin, Boris Ivanovich (Oakville, CA)
Oudenes, Jan (Aurora, CA)
Application Number:
13/970373
Publication Date:
12/19/2013
Filing Date:
08/19/2013
Assignee:
Alphora Research Inc. (Mississauga, CA)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
549/396, 549/465, 562/503
International Classes:
C07D493/04; C07C59/90; C07D307/937; C07D311/94
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
CHANDRAKUMAR, NIZAL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
McMillan LLP (BROOKFIELD PLACE, Suite 4400 181 BAY STREET TORONTO ON M5J 2T3)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A fused cyclopentane—4-substituted 3,5-dioxalane lactone compound useful as an intermediate in the synthesis of prostaglandin analogs, the compound having the formula A: embedded image wherein R represents an aryl group.

2. Compound A according to claim 1 wherein R represents a substituted phenyl group.

3. Compound A according to claim 1 wherein R represents p-methoxyphenyl

4. A substituted cyclopentane lactone compound useful as an intermediate in the synthesis of prostaglandin analogs, the compound having the formula B: embedded image wherein R′ represents a lower alkoxy substituted benzyl group.

5. Compound B according to claim 4 wherein R′ represents p-methoxybenzyl.

6. Compound 28 ((Z)-benzyl 7-((1R,2R,3R)-2-((E)-4,4-difluoro-3-oxooct-1-enyl)-3-(4-methoxybenzyloxy)-5-oxocyclopentyl)hept-5-enoate) of formula: embedded image

7. A process of preparing lubiprostone, of formula: embedded image which comprises hydrogenating (Z)-benzyl 7-((1R,2R,3R)-2-((E)-4,4-difluoro-3-oxooct-1-enyl)-3-(4-methoxybenzyloxy)-5-oxocyclopentyl)hept-5-enoate with hydrogen over a palladium catalyst in solution, wherein said reaction is conducted at room temperature in solution in ethanol/isopropanol, solid product so obtained is dissolved in isopropyl acetate, crystallized by addition of heptane to the solution, and solid, crystalline lubiprostone recovered.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to prostaglandin analogs and their synthesis. More particularly, it relates to a novel, simplified synthesis of prostaglandin analogs, and novel chemical compounds useful as intermediates in such synthesis.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION AND PRIOR ART

Prostaglandins (PGs) are organic carboxylic acids, namely cyclopentanes carrying two side chain substituents, typically linear C6-C8 side chains, bonded to adjacent positions on the cyclopentane nucleus. One of the side chains, the α-side chain, carries a terminal carboxylic acid group. Many are natural products found in mammalian organs and tissues (primary PGs), and exhibit a variety of physiological activities. Primary PGs generally have a prostanoic acid skeleton, which forms the basis of the nomenclature: α

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A significant number of synthetic PG analogs have been made and found to have useful pharmacological properties. These may have modified skeletons, and substituted and unsaturated side chains. PGs are characterized by a hydroxyl (or ketone) substituent on the cyclopentane nucleus, position 9.

Prostaglandin analogs are difficult to synthesize. Complications arise because of the requirements of the end products to have several functional groups and two side chains of significant size and complexity. Stereospecificity is commonly required, for substituent groups and for bonds in the core. Since the products are intended for pharmaceutical use, the range of industrially acceptable reagents, solvents, catalysts, etc. which can be used in their synthesis is limited to those having pharmaceutical industry acceptability.

A common starting material for PG analog synthesis is the commercially available Corey alcohol benzoate, of formula:

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To convert this to a synthetic PG analog, many protection, functionalization, de-protection, etc. steps are required to form the desired side chains. U.S. Pat. No. 5,252,605 Ueno, issued Oct. 12, 1993, reports several PG syntheses starting from Corey alcohol which involve approximately fifteen steps. Inevitably, such a multi-step process is time consuming and expensive to conduct, and results in relatively low overall yield of final product.

An example of a synthetic prostaglandin analog of specific interest is lubiprostone, reported to be a solid crystalline compound of formula:

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but also, at least in solution, having a mono-cyclic structural isomeric form of formula:

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the two isomeric compounds being inter-convertible so that both forms are present in admixture in solution.

Lubiprostone is marketed as “Amitiza”, for use in treatment of chronic idiopathic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and post-operative ileus. The synthesis of lubiprostone presents significant technical challenge because of the chemical complexity of the fluorine containing substituent chain at the 12-position. Known methods for its synthesis suffer from the aforementioned disadvantages, namely a multi-step (typically 15-step) synthesis from Corey alcohol with consequent low yields of final product and time consuming nature of the process.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a novel synthetic method for preparing PG analogs, in fewer steps and in improved overall yield.

It is a further object to provide novel chemical compounds useful in the synthesis of PG analogs.

It is a specific object of the present invention to provide a novel synthesis of lubiprostone, starting from commercially available Corey alcohol, and novel forms and compositions of lubiprostone.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One significant aspect of the present invention is a small class of novel chemical compounds comprising a cyclopentane nucleus fused at its 4,5 position with a 4-substituted 3,5-dioxalane ring, and fused at its 3a,6a-position with a lactone ring. The compounds have the formula:

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where R represents an aryl group, preferably a substituted phenyl group such as p-methoxyphenyl (PMP). Subsequent reaction of a compound of formula A with a lower alkyl-aluminum compound such as di-isobutyl aluminum hydride (DIBAL) under properly selected conditions causes ring opening of the dioxalane at a specific position, as well as reduction of the lactone to lactol without over-reducing the lactol ring structure to a diol. The product of the ring opening reaction has a hydroxymethyl group at position 1 on the cyclopentane nucleus, ready for chemical expansion to provide the ω-chain of the selected target PG analog, and a protected hydroxyl group at position 2. In subsequent steps, the lactol ring can be opened chemically, and expanded to form the α-chain of the target compound, with the residue of the lactol ring forming the basis for the eventual 9-hydroxy or 9-keto group of the target PG analog. The formula of this ring-opened product B may be represented as follows:

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It is totally unexpected that this reaction should take place without over-reducing the lactone ring. One would have predicted formation of a complex mixture of different reduction products, with such a plurality of potentially reducible groups and sites being subject to such a powerful reducing agent as DIBAL. Instead, by selection of appropriate reaction conditions, a high degree of selectivity to form product B is achieved. These conditions include selection of a reaction solvent which is a good solvent for the cyclopentane compound, and which is a polar, non-co-ordinating solvent that permits, and does not interfere with, co-ordination of the aluminum complex with the available oxygen of the ring structure, to the substantial exclusion of co-ordination of the aluminum to the solvent itself; and temperatures appropriate to maintain the stability of the organo-aluminum compound. Suitable such solvents include methylene chloride, chlorobenzene, chloroform, toluene and mixtures thereof, and similar polar hydrocarbons, with methylene chloride being most preferred. Preferably low temperatures, below 0° C. and most preferably in the −40-−50° C. range.

Thus according to a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided in one embodiment a fused cyclopentane—4-substituted 3,5-dioxalane lactone compound useful as an intermediate in the synthesis of prostaglandin analogs, the compound having the formula A:

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wherein R represents a lower alkoxy substituted phenyl group.

According to a second aspect, there is provided a process of preparing a substituted cyclopentane lactone compound of formula B, which comprises subjecting a compound of formula A as defined above to selective ring opening reduction with a lower alkyl-aluminum reducing agent in solution in a polar, non-coordinating solvent at a temperature at which the reducing agent is stable.

A further aspect of the present invention provides solid, highly crystalline lubiprostone having the bicyclic structure:

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essentially or completely free of monocyclic structural isomer, having a triclinic crystal system, unit cell dimensions (Angstroms) a=9.0083, b=10.767, c=12.375, α=78.544, β=69.580 and γ=77.285; and having a powder X-ray diffraction pattern exhibiting its four strongest intensity peaks at 2θ angles of approximately 14.5, 17.3, 19.7 and 23.3; the unit cell comprising two crystallographically independent enantiomorphic molecules.

BRIEF REFERENCE TO THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 of accompanying drawings illustrates the overall reaction scheme embodying the present invention, in the preparation of lubiprostone, a preferred embodiment thereof.

FIG. 2 is a powder X-ray diffraction pattern of Polymorph A of the lubiprostone product (AL293A, LUBIPROSTONE, 2-VR-032-3) prepared according to Example 1 described below.

FIG. 3 is a powder X-ray diffraction pattern of Polymorph B of the lubiprostone product (AL294, LUBIPROSTONE, 2-VR-074-1) prepared according to Example 1 described below.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to the accompanying drawing FIG. 1, the preferred synthesis according to the invention starts with Corey alcohol benzoate 10, which is commercially available. Reaction of this with sodium methoxide in methanol (room temperature, 1.5 hours) produces Corey lactone diol 12 in high yield (e.g. 97%) ready for further reaction.

A cyclopentane-lactone-dioxalane fused compound 16, member of the class of compounds A of the present invention, is prepared by reacting Corey lactone diol 12 with anisaldehyde dimethyl acetal, compound 14, in the presence of trace amounts of acid. This reaction suitably takes place under reflux, over a period of, for example 3 hours. A dioxalane ring substituted at ring position 2 with p-methoxyphenyl (PMP) forms in high (85-90%) yield. In the next step, according to this preferred embodiment of the process, compound 16 is reacted with DIBAL, in solution in methylene chloride and toluene, and at a low temperature (e.g. −45° C.) at which DIBAL is stable. Ring opening of the dioxalane at a specific position occurs, without over-reduction of the lactone structure to diol, thereby producing compound 18, a representative of class B referred to above, in a yield in excess of 80%. Compound 18 has a hydroxymethyl group at position 1 on the cyclopentane nucleus, ready for chemical expansion to provide the w-chain of the selected target PG analog, and a hydroxyl group protected with p-methoxy benzyl at position 2.

Side chain expansion and derivatization can now take place using compound 18, advantageously expanding one side chain to that required in the target prostaglandin analog first, and subsequently expanding the second one to the target. Thus in the preferred embodiment where lubiprostone is the target compound, the α-chain is formed first. This is a linear heptanoic acid chain, which after formation merely needs simple protection of its terminal carboxylic acid group to confer stability and prevent its interference with other reactions. The w-chain of lubiprostone is more chemically complex, involving a hemi-acetal and a di-fluorinated side chain. Introducing this chain second reduces the chances of fluorinated side chain losses in subsequent reactions, as the number of such reactions is reduced, the α-chain being already formed.

The first step in the α-chain expansion is reaction of compound 18 with butane-1-carboxylic acid—triphenylphosphine bromide and sodium hexamethyl disilazane to cause opening of the lactone ring and condensation thereof to form a compound 20. This reaction suitably takes place in toluene solvent and at a temperature of −20 to −30° C., over a period of 2-3 hours. A double bond forms at position 5,6 of the side chain. Stereospecificity of the original Corey alcohol is retained. This reaction is analogous to that conducted in known prostaglandin synthesis process, although according to the invention it is applied to novel reagents and produces novel intermediates. The next step is the protection of the terminal carboxylic acid group, and this is done in known manner, by reaction of compound 20 with benzyl bromide (BnBr) in the presence of potassium carbonate at room temperature in acetone solvent, in two steps, over 18 hours, producing protected acid compound 22. A 55-65% yield is typically obtained in this step.

Next, a double oxidation of hydroxyl groups to keto and aldehyde groups is conducted. Protected compound 22 is oxidized with pyridine-sulfur trioxide in the presence of di-isopropylethylamine and in DMSO-methylene chloride solvent. The result is oxidation of the primary alcohol side chain group to aldehyde, and oxidation of the secondary, nuclear alcohol group to a keto functionality, producing compound 24.

Now the fluorinated side chain required in lubiprostone can start to be introduced. Thus the next step in the process is the reaction of compound 24 with dimethyl-(2-oxo-3,3-difluoroheptyl)phosphonate (compound 26), in the presence of sodium hydride and dimethoxyethane (DME), for example at 50 to 70° over 18 hours. The result is compound 28, in 60-70% yield.

The final reactions in lubiprostone synthesis are the hydrogenation of the double bonds in compound 28, ((Z)-benzyl 7-((1R,2R,3R)-2-((E)-4,4-difluoro-3-oxooct-1-enyl)-3-(4-methoxybenzyloxy)-5-oxocyclopentyl)hept-5-enoate which is itself a novel, inventive compound and a feature of the present invention, and the deprotection thereof to remove the carboxylic acid protectant from the α-chain terminus, and the removal of the p-methoxybenzyl (OPMB) protectant to form the desired hemi-acetal ring. This is done in a single step, by hydrogenation using hydrogen over palladium/carbon catalyst in isopropanol medium, at room temperature over, e.g., 2 hours. This process is another significant feature of the present invention. The product is lubiprostone, compound 30, in a 75-80% yield for this step.

Alternatively, these final reactions can be conducted by hydrogenation using hydrogen over palladium/carbon catalyst in ethanol/isopropanol mixed medium. The product can be dissolved in isopropyl acetate and crystallized by addition of heptane to this solution.

The illustrated process is capable of producing lubiprostone from Corey alcohol in eight steps at an overall yield in excess of 15%, which is most acceptable in syntheses of this type and is significantly higher than that achieved with prior art processes. Most of the reagents used are relatively inexpensive, with the possible exception of dimethyl 2-oxo-3,3-difluoroheptyl phosphonate (compound 26). This is a known compound, preparable from ethyl 2-oxo-hexanoate by reaction with ethyl 2,2-difluorohexanoate in the following reaction scheme:

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Specific preferred embodiments of the present invention is further described, for illustrative purposes, in the following specific experimental examples.

Example 1

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Corey Lactone Diol 12.

To a suspension of 10 (15 g, 54 mmol, 1 equiv) in methanol (75 mL) was added sodium methoxide (25% wt in methanol, 1.2 mL, 5.4 mmol, 0.1 equiv). The mixture was stirred at room temperature for 1.5 h and then hydrochloric acid solution (4 M in dioxane, approximately 1 mL) was added until the pH was 3-4. The solution was stirred at room temperature for 10 min and then concentrated to dryness under vacuum on a rotary evaporator. The resulting white solid was suspended in methyl tert-butyl ether (150 mL) and stirred at room temperature for 1 h. The solid was filtered, washed with methyl tert-butyl ether, and dried under vacuum for 10 min to afford 9.1 g of 12 (97%) as a white solid.

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Protected Diol 16.

To a suspension of 12 (5.0 g, 29 mmol, 1 equiv) in toluene (100 mL) was added anisaldehyde dimethyl acetal (14) (7.4 mL, 44 mmol, 1.5 equiv) and p-methoxy benzoic acid (44 mg, 0.29 mmol, 0.01 equiv). A condenser and a Dean-Stark apparatus were attached and the mixture was heated at 120° C. for 3 h while removing methanol by the Dean-Stark apparatus (approximately 2 mL). The reaction mixture was removed from the oil bath and stirred at room temperature for 15 min. Methyl tert-butyl ether (100 mL) was added and the mixture was cooled in an ice bath for 45 min. The resulting suspension was filtered, washed with methyl tert-butyl ether, and dried under vacuum for 10 min to afford 7.3 g of 16 (87%) as a white solid.

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Lactol 18.

A solution of 16 (14 g, 50 mmol, 1 equiv) in dichloromethane (500 mL) in a round-bottom flask containing a dropping funnel was flushed with N2 for 5 min. The solution was cooled to −45° C. and diisobutylaluminum hydride (1 M in toluene, 150 mL, 150 mmol, 3 equiv) was added dropwise. The mixture was stirred for 1 hour and 20 min at −45° C. Buffer solution pH 7 (21 mL) was added dropwise and the solution was warmed to room temperature over 2 h. The suspension was filtered and washed with dichloromethane. The filtrate was concentrated to dryness under vacuum on a rotary evaporator to afford 13 g of 18 as a yellow oil (88% yield) which was used directly in the next step.

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Diol 20.

To a suspension of (4-carboxybutyl)triphenylphosphonium bromide (33 g, 75 mmol, 2 equiv) in toluene (220 mL) was added sodium hexamethyl disilazane (1 M in tetrahydrofuran, 262 mL, 262 mmol, 7 equiv). The mixture was stirred at room temperature for 1 h and then cooled to −25° C. Compound 18 in tetrahydrofuran (60 mL) was added dropwise and then warmed to room temperature over 4 h. Water (200 mL) was added and the organic layer was separated and extracted with water (2×50 mL). The aqueous washings were combined and 20% aqueous citric acid solution (125 mL) was added. The suspension was extracted with dichloromethane (4×100 mL). The organics were combined, dried over sodium sulfate, filtered, and concentrated to dryness under vacuum on a rotary evaporator to afford a yellow oil containing 20. The oil was dissolved in acetone (433 mL) and potassium carbonate (11 g, 77 mmol, 2 equiv) and benzyl bromide (9.1 mL, 77 mmol, 2 equiv) were added. The mixture was stirred at room temperature for 18 h, filtered, and concentrated to dryness under vacuum on a rotary evaporator. The crude oil was purified by column chromatography using 50% ethyl acetate/hexanes as eluant to afford 11 g of 22 as a yellow oil (64%).

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Aldehyde 24.

A solution of 22 (3.5 g, 7.4 mmol, 1 equiv) and dimethyl sulfoxide (10.5 mL) in dichloromethane (70 mL) was cooled to −15° C. Diisopropyl ethylamine (4.3 mL, 45 mmol, 6 equiv) was added followed by the addition of a solution of sulfur trioxide pyridine complex (7.1 g, 45 mmol, 6 equiv) in dimethyl sulfoxide (21 mL). The mixture was stirred at −15° C. for 1 h and was then diluted with 20% aqueous citric acid solution (20 mL). The aqueous layer was extracted with dichloromethane (3×20 mL) and the organics were combined, dried over sodium sulfate, filtered, and concentrated to dryness under vacuum on a rotary evaporator. The crude oil was purified by column chromatography using 20-40% ethyl acetate/hexanes as a gradient eluant to afford 3.1 g of 24 as a yellow oil (90%).

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Protected Unsaturated Lubiprostone 28.

A suspension of sodium hydride (60% dispersion in oil, 2.1 g, 53 mmol, 2.5 equiv) in tetrahydrofuran (500 mL) was added dropwise a solution of 26 (14 g, 53 mmol, 2.5 equiv) in tetrahydrofuran (165 mL). The mixture was stirred for 1 h at room temperature. A solution of 24 (9.9 g, 21 mmol, 1 equiv) in tetrahydrofuran (165 mL) was added dropwise. The mixture was then heated with stirring at 58° C. for 2 days. The mixture was cooled to room temperature and saturated aqueous ammonium chloride (200 mL) was added followed by water (200 mL). The aqueous layer was separated and extracted with ethyl acetate (3×150 mL). The organics were combined, dried over sodium sulfate, filtered, and concentrated to dryness under vacuum on a rotary evaporator. The crude oil was purified by column chromatography using 10-25% ethyl acetate/hexanes as a gradient eluant followed by a second column chromatography using 20% ethyl acetate/hexanes as to afford 7.8 g of 28 as a yellow oil (61%).

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Lubiprostone.

A mixture of 28 (8.0 g, 13 mmol, 1 equiv) and 5% palladium on carbon (containing 54.02% water, 5.1 g, 1.3 mmol, 0.1 equiv) in isopropanol (300 mL) was stirred under an atmosphere of H2 (g) in a Parr hydrogenator at 40 psi for 2 h. The solution was then filtered through Celite™ and washed with methyl tert-butyl ether. The filtrate was concentrated to dryness under vacuum on a rotary evaporator and the resulting yellow oil was purified by a silica plug by first eluting with dichloromethane to remove impurities and then with methyl tert-butyl ether to remove the product. The methyl tert-butyl ether filtrate was concentrated to dryness under vacuum on a rotary evaporator to afford a yellow oil that was dried under vacuum for 3 h. The resulting oil was dissolved in dichloromethane (5 mL) with heating and a 1:1 solution of hexanes:petroleum ether (50 mL) was added. The solution was placed in an ice bath and stirred vigorously. Methyl tert-butyl ether (1 mL) was added and the product began precipitating out of solution. The mixture was stirred for 2 h, filtered, and washed with a solution of 2% dichloromethane in 1:1 mixture hexanes:petroleum ether to afford 4.1 g of Lubiprostone (78%) as a white solid, identified as polymorph B (Table 2).

Alternatively, the resulting oil following the silica plug can be crystallized by dissolving the oil in isopropyl acetate (0.80 parts based on mass of crude oil) and adding heptane (4.2 parts based on mass of crude oil) dropwise and further stirring for 18 h at room temperature. The resulting suspension was filtered and washed forward with isopropyl acetate/heptane (5:95 v/v, 3 parts based on mass of crude oil) to afford Lubiprostone (70%) as a white solid with polymorph A (Table 1). The resulting solid can be recrystallized by by dissolving the oil in isopropyl acetate (0.80 parts based on mass of crude oil) and adding heptane (4.2 parts based on mass of crude oil) dropwise and further stirring for 18 h at room temperature. The resulting suspension was filtered and washed forward with isopropyl acetate/heptane (5:95 v/v, 3 parts based on mass of crude oil) to afford Lubiprostone (50-55%) as a white solid, identified as polymorph B (Table 2).

TABLE 1
Polymorph A Values
2-ThetaIntensityI/Io (%)
6.60921100
13.3639443
15.7648453
19.12917100
20.4441845
21.5626429

TABLE 2
Polymorph B Values
2-ThetaIntensityI/Io (%)
7.72102135
10.72134246
14.64111839
17.122890100
19.72187165
23.4098234

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Ethyl 2,2-Difluorohexanoate.

To a 0° C. solution of ethyl 2-oxohexanoate (6.3 g, 40 mmol, 1 equiv) in dichloromethane (125 mL) was added dropwise (diethylamino)sulfur trifluoride (6.3 mL, 48 mmol, 1.2 equiv). The solution was warmed to room temperature over 4 h. Saturated aqueous sodium bicarbonate (100 mL) was slowly added. The aqueous layer was separated and extracted with dichloromethane (3×50 mL). The organics were combined, dried over sodium sulfate, filtered, and concentrated to dryness under vacuum on a rotary evaporator to afford 6.5 g of ethyl 2,2-difluorohexanoate (91%) as a yellow oil.

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Dimethyl-(2-oxo-3,3-difluoroheptyl)phosphonate 26.

A solution of dimethyl methylphosphonoate (6.5 g, 80 mmol, 2.2 equiv) in tetrahydrofuran (100 mL) was cooled to −78° C. and n-butyllithium (2.5 M in hexanes, 14 mL, 36 mmol, 1 equiv) was added dropwise. The solution was stirred at −78° C. for 30 min and ethyl 2,2-difluorohexanoate (6.5 g, 36 mmol, 1 equiv) was added dropwise. The solution was stirred at −78° C. for 1 h and warmed to 0° C. over 1 h. Pentane (100 mL) was added followed by the dropwise addition of 2M H2SO4 to pH=6. The aqueous layer was separated and extracted with pentane (3×15 mL). The organics were combined, dried over sodium sulfate, filtered, and concentrated to dryness under vacuum on a rotary evaporator. The crude oil was purified by column chromatography using methyl tert-butyl ether as eluant to afford 4.1 g of 26 as a yellow oil (44%).

Crystallographic Analysis

The sample of lubiprostone compound 30 prepared as described above was subjected to X-ray analysis to determine crystal structure. First, the sample was examined under an optical microscope. Large (5-12 mm) white needles with rough surfaces were observed. A needle was cut and a clear section (0.35×0.20×0.15 mm3) from the interior was chosen for X-ray analysis after screening on a cross-polarized microscope. The crystal was picked up on an MiTeGen mount and centred on the Bruker Smart Apex2 Mo diffractometer. Routine data collection using 60s frames gave data of sufficient quality (1.0 Å resolution) to solve and refine the structure. Non-hydrogen atoms were refined anisotropically. Hydrogen atoms bound to carbon atoms were placed in calculated positions. Hydrogen atoms bound to oxygen atoms were found in the electron density difference map and refined isotropically. An ideal powder pattern was calculated from the single crystal data, i.e. from atomic co-ordinates using Mercury (CCDC). This pattern is shown in FIG. 2 and FIG. 3 of the accompanying drawings.

Two crystallographically independent molecules, enantiomorphs, were found in the unit cell. Crystal data from one of these revealed a triclinic crystal system, with unit cell dimensions (Angstroms) a=9.0083. b=10.767, c=12.375, α=78.544, β=69.580 and γ=77.285; and having a powder X-ray diffraction pattern exhibiting its four strongest intensity peaks at 2θ angles of approximately 14.5, 17.3, 19.7 and 23.3. The unit cell volume was 1096.4 Å3, the calculated density 1.183 Mg/m3, and the crystal size 0.35×0.20×0.15 mm3. Data was collected over a theta range of 1.77 to 20.81°

Example 2

Protected lubiprostol compound 28, prepared as described in Example 1, was deprotected by hydrogenation in mixed ethanol/2-propanol, and crystallized from isopropyl acetate.

To a thick walled clear Pyrex Reaction Bottle was added under a flow of nitrogen palladium on carbon (10% wt on carbon, 50% wt in water, 1.07 g, 0.1 equiv, 0.503 mmol). Ethanol/2-propanol (1:4 v/v, 18 mL, 6 parts) was added under a flow of nitrogen. A mixture of compound 28 (3 g, 5.03 mmol, 1 equiv) in ethanol/2-propanol (1:4 v/v, 51 mL, 17 parts) was added under a flow of nitrogen. The flask was rinsed with ethanol/2-propanol (1:4 v/v, 6 mL, 2 parts). The mixture was shaken in a Parr shaker at 40 psi at room temperature for 24 h. The mixture was purged with nitrogen, filtered through Celite (15 g, 5 parts), and washed with ethanol/2-propanol (1:4 v/v, 75 mL, 25 parts). The solution was concentrated to dryness under vacuum on a rotary evaporator at 45° C. The resulting yellow oil was dissolved in dichloromethane (6 mL, 2 parts), loaded onto a silica plug (15 g, 5 parts) (which is conditioned with dichloromethane), and eluted with dichloromethane (60 mL, 20 parts) The collection flask was changed and the silica plug was eluted with isopropyl acetate (90 mL, 30 parts). The solution was concentrated to dryness under vacuum on a rotary evaporator at 45° C. to afford 2 g of lubiprostol as a yellow oil. The product was recrystallized by dissolving the oil in isopropyl acetate (3.4 mL, 1.12 parts) and adding heptane (17.6 mL, 5.88 parts) dropwise and further stirring for 2 hours. The resulting suspension was filtered and washed with iropropyl acetate/heptane (5:95 v/v, 3 parts) to afford 1.04 g of lubiprostol compound 30 as a white solid (53% yield).