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The scarcity of complex intermediates in pharmaceutical research motivates the pursuit of reaction optimization protocols on submilligram scales. We report here the development of an automated flow-based synthesis platform, designed from commercially available components, that integrates both rapid nanomole-scale reaction screening and micromole-scale synthesis into a single modular unit. This system was validated by exploring a diverse range of reaction variables in a Suzuki-Miyaura coupling on nanomole scale at elevated temperatures, generating liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry data points for 5760 reactions at a rate of >1500 reactions per 24 hours. Through multiple injections of the same segment, the system directly produced micromole quantities of desired material. The optimal conditions were also replicated in traditional flow and batch mode at 50- to 200-milligram scale to provide good to excellent yields.

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Well, here I was the other day going on about automated chemistry when this paper was waiting in my RSS feed. It’s from a group at Pfizer, and they’re using an automated microscale flow chemistry rig for reaction optimization. Inspired by this work...