Late-Stage Carbon Isotope Exchange of Aryl Nitriles through Ni-Catalyzed C–CN Bond Activation

09 February 2021, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


A facile one-pot strategy for 13CN and 14CN exchange with aryl, heteroaryl, and vinyl nitriles using a Ni phosphine catalyst and BPh3 is described. This late-stage carbon isotope exchange (CIE) strategy employs labeled Zn(CN)2 to facilitate enrichment using the non-labeled parent compound as the starting material, eliminating de novo synthesis for precursor development. A broad substrate scope encompassing multiple pharmaceuticals is disclosed, including the preparation of [14C]belzutifan to illustrate the exceptional functional group tolerance and utility of this labeling approach. Preliminary experimental and computational studies suggest the Lewis acid BPh3 is not critical for the oxidative addition step and instead plays a role in facilitating CN exchange on Ni. This CIE method dramatically reduces the synthetic steps and radioactive waste involved in preparation of 14C labeled tracers for clinical development.


C-CN bond activation
carbon isotope exchange

Supplementary materials

Ni CN Exchange SI


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