University of Queensland researchers develop chemical creation platform based on cubane rather than hydrocarbons; innovation could enable development of pharmaceutical and agricultural chemicals that aren't always compatible with hydrocarbons

Sample article from our Consumer packaged goods (CPG)

April 4, 2023 (press release) –

In an ongoing discovery program, a chemical-creation platform is being unearthed – based on cubic molecules – that could help breathe new life into tired drugs and agrochemicals.

The University of Queensland’s Professor Craig Williams said the platform, developed in collaboration with CSIRO, is developing an exciting set of tools for chemists who, in many cases, had been running out of new chemical building block options.

“Chemists have often relied on hydrocarbons, substances like petrochemicals, throughout history to build new critically important chemicals for society,” Professor Williams said.

“But one key hydrocarbon that’s been historically missing from this mix is cubane – a synthetic hydrocarbon in the shape of a cube.

“Cubane traditionally was overlooked, as there was no way to synthesise this molecule on a large scale and so its application was limited.

“This has since changed as Australian chemists at CSIRO reported a kilogram scale synthesis, which is now in production at Boron Molecular in Melbourne, that enabled a significant upsurge of cubane research in the twenty-first century.”

For the first time, the team at UQ successfully incorporated a nitrogen atom into a close relative of cubane, which has the long-term potential of improving the properties of this class of molecules for use in biological systems.

“Hydrocarbons find success within a wide selection of drugs, but the nature of an all-carbon atom core can impede some biological interactions and restrict their application in drug and agrochemical discovery,” Professor Williams said.

“Elements like nitrogen can facilitate biologically desirable interactions that are unavailable to hydrocarbons.

“In fact, the biological demand for nitrogen is so great that most US FDA-approved drugs contain at least one nitrogen atom.

Cubane conversion

“Substituting nitrogen atoms into pharmaceutically proven hydrocarbon scaffolds, like cubane, is an underutilised but attractive strategy to upgrade their biological potential.

“The synthesis and study of 1-azahomocubane in collaboration with the University of Chicago and Queensland University of Technology pushes the boundary of what is possible.”

Professor Williams has a longstanding collaboration with Dr Paul Savage, Deputy Director of CSIRO Manufacturing, whose team is experienced in translating laboratory inventions into scalable processes.

Dr Savage said the research team are excited about what’s next.

“This groundwork may lead to better treatments for disease, or day-to-day chemicals that vastly improve our quality of life and the environment,” Dr Savage said.

“To be clear, these are all future aspirations – and could be a long way off – but this work is fundamental to providing new options to chemists around the globe, and we’re thrilled to have been able to make a contribution towards this goal.”

The research has been highlighted in Chemistry World and Science - In The Pipeline.

Media: Professor Craig Williams,, +61 (0) 7 3365 3530; Faculty of Science Media,, +61 438 162 687.

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.

See our dashboard in action - schedule an demo
Jason Irving
Jason Irving
- SVP Enterprise Solutions -

We offer built-to-order consumer packaged goods (cpg) coverage for our clients. Contact us for a free consultation.

About Us

We deliver market news & information relevant to your business.

We monitor all your market drivers.

We aggregate, curate, filter and map your specific needs.

We deliver the right information to the right person at the right time.

Our Contacts

1990 S Bundy Dr. Suite #380,
Los Angeles, CA 90025

+1 (310) 553 0008

About Cookies On This Site

We collect data, including through use of cookies and similar technology ("cookies") that enchance the online experience. By clicking "I agree", you agree to our cookies, agree to bound by our Terms of Use, and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. For more information on our data practices and how to exercise your privacy rights, please see our Privacy Policy.