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Explain the Uses of an Organometallic Compound

The term Organometallic arises from the covalent bond existing between a carbon atom and a metal atom and as the name suggests, it is a compound that is partly organic and partly metallic. There are, however, compounds containing metal to hydrogen bonds and also other compounds containing non-metallic atoms bonded to carbon which are classed under Organometallic compounds. The earliest synthesis of organometallic compounds originated form an English Chemist, Sir Edward Franklin, in 1845 who worked on the interaction between zinc (Zn) and an alkyl halide. It is believed he was attempting to synthesize alkyl radicals. The key to enable one to class a compound as an organometallic compound however, is for the compound to have at least one carbon to metal bond (which is referred to as a sigma bond) or a carbon to a metal complex bond (which is known as a pi bond). Hunt, I. Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary. 

To gain understanding of the general reactivity of organometallic compounds, it would be prudent to view them as ionic compounds based on the values of their electrostatic potentials which are similar to that of ionic compounds.  These organometallic compounds react as electron rich compounds and have anionic carbon atoms which are often referred to as carbanions. Carbanions function as either bases or nucleophiles and their reactivity is determined by a number of factors including inductive effect, hydilisation, and the extent of conjugation of the anion. There are several synthetic ways of forming a metal to carbon bond and some of these common but important processes are as outlined below.

In the human body, there are a variety of metal containing molecules which include iron seen as hemoglobin, molybdenum as xanthine oxidase, vanadium as hemovanadin, zinc as carbonic anhydrase and copper hepatocuprein. Below are examples of organometallic based drugs which are currently on the market.

In enzyme catalysed reactions, organometallic compounds cans help us gain insight in the workings of living organisms. As detailed above, there are naturally occurring organometallic compounds in living tissues however some organometallic compounds can be equally potent to living tissues. Examples of these are lead, mercury and Arsenic. These examples were known in the Roman and medieval eras. In biomedical reactions which primarily involve enzymes, the presence of organometals is extremely common. For enzymic reactions in living tissues, enzymes play an essential role via mediation. Because enzymes are proteins, they are formed form α-chiral amino acids which make them chiral molecules. This nature gives them ability to hold a substrate in the appropriate orientation such that only one stereoisometic product results. The involvement of organomentals in these reactions comes from the need of what is known as a cofactor. The use of having the cofactor is to activate the enzyme by altering its shape to participate in the chemical reaction.

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