Click Chemistry and Radiochemistry!

The advent of click chemistry has had a profound influence on almost all branches of chemical science. This is particularly true of radiochemistry and the synthesis of agents for positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and targeted radiotherapy. The selectivity, ease, rapidity, and modularity of click ligations make them nearly ideally suited for the construction of radiotracers, a process that often involves working with biomolecules in aqueous conditions with inexorably decaying radioisotopes. In the following pages, our goal is to provide a broad overview of the first 10 years of research at the intersection of click chemistry and radiochemistry. The discussion will focus on four areas that we believe underscore the critical advantages provided by click chemistry: (i) the use of prosthetic groups for radiolabeling reactions, (ii) the creation of coordination scaffolds for radiometals, (iii) the site-specific radiolabeling of proteins and peptides, and (iv) the development of strategies for in vivo pretargeting. Particular emphasis will be placed on the four most prevalent click reactions—the Cu-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC), the strain-promoted azide-alkyne cycloaddition (SPAAC), the inverse electron demand Diels-Alder reaction (IEDDA), and the Staudinger ligation—although less well-known click ligations will be discussed as well. Ultimately, it is our hope that this review will not only serve to educate readers but will also act as a springboard, inspiring synthetic chemists and radiochemists alike to harness click chemistry in even more innovative and ambitious ways as we embark upon the second decade of this fruitful collaboration.

Bioorthogonal click ligations satisfy all of the requirements of standard click reactions but are also inert within biological systems. Not surprisingly, these reactions are hard to come by, yet a handful (most notably the Staudinger ligation, the strain-promoted azide–alkyne cycloaddition reaction, and the inverse electron demand Diels–Alder cycloaddition) have been developed and proven powerful in the hands of chemical biologists, biochemists, and biomedical scientists (Bioconjug Chem. 2016 Dec 21;27(12):2791-2807.)

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