A new catalytic system was developed for the direct catalytic asymmetric aldol reaction of thioamides. The new lithium-free Cu catalyst (second-generation catalyst) exhibited enhanced catalytic efficiency over the previously developed catalyst comprising [Cu(CH3CN) 4]PF6/Ph-BPE/LiOAr (first-generation catalyst), which required a tedious catalyst preparation process. In the reaction with the second-generation catalyst, the intermediate Cu-aldolate functioned as a Brønsted base to generate thioamide enolate, efficiently driving the catalytic cycle. The present aldol methodology culminated in a concise asymmetric synthesis of atorvastatin (Lipitor®: atorvastatin calcium), a widely prescribed HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor for lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
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