Student Anavi Serna has synthesized a rare and potentially powerful molecule, sethumine I.

The student was able to synthesize an alkaloid molecule, she found it in a plant from the Papaveracea family.

The found substance is setigerumin I, a molecule that the researchers described as “unexplored and elusive.” It is very difficult to isolate and therefore difficult to describe. Scientists speculate that setigerumin I may be the basis for drugs or other medical supplies. So far, scientists know little about its properties, since previously it was not possible to synthesize enough substance to study it.

Student Anavi Serna, together with her supervisor and chemistry teacher Juha Siitonen, created Setigerumin I in a three-step process at room temperature. It began with the oxidation and rearrangement of the noscapine precursor molecule found in cough syrup.

We have isolated a molecule from poppy, from which morphine can also be obtained. Therefore, we believe that it has the desired biological properties. For example, it can form the basis of a pain reliever that is not addictive.

Juha Siitonen, chemistry teacher

After receiving the results, the student checked them by obtaining the structure of the molecule.

The result is an environmentally friendly process that will produce 20 milligrams of Setigerumin I. That’s enough to confirm that the method works.