α-Hydroxy ketones as useful templates in asymmetric reactions
Approaching the Nature's efficiency in controlling both reactivity and stereoselectivity of organic reactions by means of a catalyst species remains a formidable challenge for chemists to face. Despite impressive advances in the design of novel catalysts and activation modes, current catalytic and asymmetric methodologies rarely meet desirable standards of robustness, substrate scope, and selectivity altogether. One trick to improve catalyst behaviour is to identify adequate substrate template–catalyst combinations so that optimum performance of the reaction system could be achieved. During the last couple of years α-hydroxy ketones, and most particularly α′-hydroxy enones, have emerged as useful templates with applications in a number of metal-catalyzed as well as organocatalyzed C–C and C–X bond-forming stereoselective reactions. The first review of these accomplishments is presented here along with a brief historical introduction.