End of an Era: Fluorous Technologies Ceases Operations

Dear Friends of Fluorous Chemistry and Valued Customers of Fluorous Technologies:

The stockholders of Fluorous Technologies approved a plan to permanently close the business and begin a liquidation process. While we had hoped for a better long term outcome, all of us at FTI agree this is the appropriate action at this time.

Thank you, one and all, for your tremendous support and interactions over the past 12 years.

We know many of you would like to continue to purchase fluorous products, and discussions are underway with other potential providers. In the meantime, please note that FTI is STILL TAKING ORDERS for materials currently in stock. We have updated our contact information to the following:

E-mail:    fluoroustech@gmail.com
Voicemail: 267-225-5384 (267-CALLFTI)

All knowledge-based assets of the company are available for purchase as part of the liquidation process, including trade secrets (production procedures, general fluorous know-how), intellectual property (FTI-assigned patents) and brand assets (trademarks, website, etc.). Please do reach out if you have an interest.

Finally, we’d like to take one last moment to highlight and thank our customers, the fluorous community, our partners and numerous dedicated employees.

Success with Fluorous

Hundreds of scientists from a broad spectrum of organizations purchased and successfully used FluoroFlash products.  All of our customers contributed to the validation and expansion of the technology.  Because of this extensive “in the lab” testing, we can confidently claim that fluorous separations deliver as promised in diverse research applications, from synthesis of small molecules to creation of microarrays for life science studies.

Notable Work

While we could not possibly list everyone who made contributions to the fluorous community over the past decade plus, the following customers and their coworkers went above and beyond to develop innovative new uses for fluorous technology.

Craig Lindsley provided one of the first external validations of the technology for small molecule synthesis in the paper, “Fluorous-tethered amine bases for organic and parallel synthesis: scope and limitations”  doi:10.1016/S0040-4039(02)01399-0

John Valliant developed “A New Strategy for Preparing Molecular Imaging and Therapy Agents Using Fluorine-Rich (Fluorous) Soluble Supports” doi:10.1021/ja0600375

The Curran Group employed fluorous mixture synthesis for natural product stereoisomer determination as exemplified in the paper, “A ‘Shortcut’ Mosher Ester Method To Assign Configurations of Stereocenters in Nearly Symmetric Environments. Fluorous Mixture Synthesis and Structure Assignment of Petrocortyne A” doi:10.1021/ja900849f

Eric Peters was the first to adapt fluorous separation techniques to proteomics applications in the paper, “Enrichment and analysis of peptide subsets using fluorous affinity tags and mass spectrometry” doi:10.1038/nbt1076

Nicola Pohl created “Fluorous-Based Carbohydrate Microarrays” as a first step towards a fluorous toolkit for glycomics.  doi:10.1021/ja054811k

Will Pearson developed methods for “Fluorous Affinity Purification of Oligonucleotides” doi:10.1021/jo050795y

Arturo Vegas at the Broad Institute created and validated “Fluorous-Based Small-Molecule Microarrays for the Discovery of Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors” doi:10.1002/anie.200703198

Ongoing Resources for Customer Support

The fluorous.com website will remain available as a resource to the fluorous community for the forseeable future, but that status may not last forever. To help ensure that all the valuable technical information we gathered, composed and organized over the past decade will live on, we have made arrangements for static copies of selected website pages, F-Blog, and Technical Newsletters to be freely available in our public ftp folder.

The Technology and Application pages from our website, as well as all Technical Application Notes, a 3 MB pdf file, can be downloaded at: ftp://fluorous.com/FLUOROUS_Technology_and_Applications.pdf

The F-Blog Archive, a 9 MB pdf file, can be downloaded at: ftp://fluorous.com/FBlog_Archive.pdf

The Fluorous Technical News Archive, a 4 MB pdf file, can be downloaded at: ftp://fluorous.com/FluorousNews_Archive.pdf

Take a moment to browse through and download the documents at ftp://fluorous.com as well as those found through our Presentations and Application Notes webpages.  There is a great deal of high quality work presented in these files.

Ongoing Product Distribution Channels

For immediate sale of our in-stock product inventory, please contact us at fluoroustech@gmail.com.  Additionally, you may want to contact the following distributors of fluorous products:

Sigma Aldrich continues to distribute select FluoroFlash products.  Visit their fluorous chemistry portal for more information.

Berry & Associates offers products for Fluorous Purification of Oligonucleotides.  Please see their website http://www.berryassoc.com/fluorous.asp for further details.

Evolution of Fluorous

The field of fluorous technology has a rich past to draw from and a bright future ahead.  As our operations draw to a close, we’d like to bring attention to the work done by the greater fluorous scientific community.


Since we started tracking the scientific literature, over ten thousand papers relating to fluorous chemistry have been published.  You can download our master reference database, a 4.3 MB EndNote file, at: ftp://fluorous.com/Fluorous_references.enl.  We reviewed many of these papers as they were published here on our scientific blog, F-blog.

The following publications are comprehensive and useful compilations of fluorous technology:

A Fluorous Symposium in Print was published by Tetrahedron in 2002.

The Handbook of Fluorous Chemistry was published in 2004, edited by John Gladysz, Dennis P. Curran, and Istvan Horvath.

A special issue of QSAR & Combinatorial Science dedicated to fluorous chemistry was published in 2006.


Fluorous Technologies Inc. was a proud sponsor of (and participant in) the International Symposium on Fluorous Technology (ISoFT).  The next edition, ISoFT’13, will take place in Budapest, Hungary in June 2013.  Learn more about this important and thought-provoking conference at http://www.isoft13.mke.org.hu/

Those looking to keep abreast of fluorous technology as it moves forward should connect with ISoFT and its leaders.

ISoFT conference chairs:

Jean-Marc Vincent, Chair of the inaugural ISoFT held in 2005 in Bordeaux, France
Ilhyong Ryu, ISoFT’07 in Yokohama, Japan
Dennis P. Curran, ISoFT’09 in Jackson Hole, USA
István T. Horváth, ISoFT’11 in Hong Kong, China
József Rábai, ISoFT’13 to be held in Budapest, Hungary

International Advisory Board of ISoFTs:

Dennis P. Curran, University of Pittsburgh, USA
Richard H. Fish, LBNL Berkeley, USA
John A. Gladysz, Texas A&M University, USA
Kenichi Hatanaka, The University of Tokyo, Japan
Eric G. Hope, University of Leicester, United Kingdom
István T. Horváth, City University of Hong Kong, China
Pierangelo Metrangolo, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Nicola L Pohl, Iowa State University, USA
Ilhyong Ryu, Osaka Prefecture University, Japan
Jean-Marc Vincent, University of Bordeaux, France (Permanent Secretary of ISoFTs)

The Future

The life science market clearly sees the utility of fluorous techniques and has expressed a defined interest in fluorous products. There is an enthusiastic and dedicated user base in place that would no doubt embrace a new source for fluorous materials. An opportunity exists, and I challenge someone or some entity to rise to the need in the marketplace.

Thanks to Fluorous Employees

The working atmosphere at Fluorous is mostly that: working — with chemists scribbling notes on the translucent fronts of the lab’s fume hoods and white lab coats representing the height of fashion. But the culture at the startup firm is young and fun, tinged with the satisfaction that comes with knowing their work could help millions of people.

- from a 2002 article about Fluorous Technologies Inc.

Thirty-two people worked at FTI over the years, creating and building a commercial enterprise from the ground up.

Through a collective effort, the company was able to secure and execute more than a dozen research grants, primarily through the SBIR process; produce hundreds of high quality batches in support of a 200+ product catalog; participate in numerous trade shows, economic development programs, and scientific conferences; publish dozens of technical application notes with details on product usage, tips and techniques; chronicle and promote the fluorous field in real-time through a scientific blog; and support our customers to the best of our ability.  Each employee of Fluorous Technologies made all of this possible through their creativity, passion, and dedication.

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to our company founder Dennis Curran as well as all fluorous colleagues, past and present, with best wishes for future success.


Philip E. Yeske
President and CEO
Fluorous Technologies Inc.

Posted in Assorted Fluorous Items | 2 Comments

Visual Monitoring of Fluorous Solid Phase Extraction (FSPE)

The fluorous solid-phase extraction (FSPE) process is a very robust and  general process.  It’s utility and applicability have been demonstrated over a range of substrates and molecular classes.  One of the great things is the ease of operation.  One wash to remove non-fluorous components and then a wash to elute the fluorous portion.  A great demonstration of this is the fluorous dye experiment.  FTI has made a mixture of two dyes, a blue non-fluorous dye and an orange fluorous tagged dye, which are easily separated by FSPE as seen below.  It’s a great little demonstration.  However, when you’re making a library or fluorous tagging a substrate, your molecules of interest are not generally visible.  In that case you’re more or less trusting that the FSPE will work as advertised.  Thankfully, in the vast majority of cases that trust is well-founded and the FSPE will perform as advertised as evidenced by the number of papers that have been published by independent labs all over the world.  Sometimes, though, there are cases where the fluorous components are a little harder to get elute, primarily highly basic materials which can interact with some of the free silanols on fluorous silica gel.  Using an acidic or basic buffer usually solves that problem easily enough, but now you’ve gone off the reservation a little and it would be nice to be able to see what was going on.

Dr. Christopher Blackburn at Millennium Parmaceuticals has just published a Technology Note in ACS Combinatorial Chemistry to address this issue. Essentially he made a tag, pictured above, which contains three principal components; a) a fluorous domain, b) an azo dye, and c) a reactive functional group, in this instance an aldehyde.  The concept for the molecule is quite similar to what Lo reported using fluorous rhenium complexes although the application is different.  He was then able to tag amines through a reductive amination and purify the tagged compound by FSPE.  Due to presence of the dye, he was also able to follow the FSPE process visually.    He then demonstrated the utility of the tag in two applications; one a solution phase peptide synthesis and the other in sulfonamide synthesis.  The tag was then easily cleaved using TFA to provide the desired products after FSPE.

At FTI, we actually have received more than one request for a visual fluorous tag such as this one, but we’ve never developed one.  One of the reasons is that to develop a whole suite of visible tags which would encompass all the possible ones that people would want was always considered a daunting task.  Another reason is that the FSPE is really quite a robust process so how much value would it really add?  A tough question to answer.  Finally, the azo tag does put some additional constraints on the fluorous tag.  Dr. Blackburn notes that unlike most fluorous tag, the added dye makes the compound insoluble in MeOH, CH2Cl2, and CH3CN.  It took some heating in THF to get it into solution.  The dye portion also adds some functionality, and therefore reactivity, that limits some of the chemical compatibility.  These issues certainly takes away from some of the appeal of fluorous chemistry.

Even with the caveats above, a visible fluorous tag could certainly have it’s place in certain applications and it’ll be interesting to see what the response to the Note is.



Posted in Small Molecule Synthesis | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Isotope-coded Fluorous PALs

Prof. Qisheng Zhang at UNC-Chapel Hill has published several papers about the synthesis and use of fluorous tagged photoaffinity labels (PALs) and has just published another report in Chemical Communications.  The general strategy is to attach a photosensitive reactive group on a probe small molecule, incubate it with the biological sample of interest, and then expose the mixture to light.  Whatever proteins or other molecules that the probe is bound to will then form an irreversible covalent bond through the photo-generated reactive group.  The classic photosensitive functionality if a diazirine which upon irradiation decomposes to a reactive carbene which will usually then react with whatever bond is nearby.  By using a fluorous tagged diazirine, Prof. Zhang has been able to then enrich samples for the fluorous tagged compounds through fluorous solid phase extraction (FSPE).  Tagging through PALs followed by enrichment is an often used approach with the enrichment being performed primarily through affinity tags such as biotin or His-tags.  Using fluorous enrichment, however, confers all of the usual advantages such as low non-selective binding, ease of elution, and excellent MS characteristics.

Besides PALs and other cross-linking strategies, another popular strategy in proteomics is isotope-coding in order to be able to directly compare different samples.  For example, if you wanted to compare protein levels in healthy cells vs. diseased cells, you could add the appropriate protein labeling agent to the healthy cells and the same protein labeling agent, except with some deuteriums of 13C’s in it, to the diseased cells.  Mix the two labeled samples together in equal amounts then compare the ratio of labeled proteins by MS.  Most of the time, you’d see a 1:1 ratio for the proteins, but every now and then you’d see a protein overexpressed or underexpressed in the disease cell state vs the healthy state.  This would then indicate that that protein may be important in the disease process.

In his group’s latest report, Prof. Zhang combines these two strategies by using a pair of isotope-encoded fluorous PALs.  As seen in the figure above, the difference in the two PALs is proton vs. deuterium substitution on the aromatic ring.  In practice, the authors used not the benzyl alcohol, but the NHS benzyl carbonate (not shown here) to first label a small peptide (RKRSRAE) through the side chain amine of the lysine. They took an equimolar ratio of the two in MeOH and irradiated the sample and found a near 1:1 ratio of the O-H bond insertion product of the carbene with MeOH.  This demonstrated that the isotope-encoded PAL’s behaved similarly and thus suitable for their intended use.

Next the authors looked at the effectiveness of the FSPE separation.  They took a 1:1 and a 2:1 mixture of the isotope-encoded insertion products from above and added them to a BSA tryptic digest.  As can be seen the amount of fluorous labeled peptides before FSPE is quite small in comparison to the BSA peptides.  The difference after FSPE, however, is quite dramatic and demonstrates the power of the FSPE in the sample enrichment.  They also found that the original isotope ratio was largely maintained, so no preferential enrichment of the deuterated over the protonated labels.

Next step:  a real mixture looking for some real answers.

Posted in Life Science Applications, Proteomics | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Using Fluorous Tags to Mass Differentiate Stereospecific Reactions

Trent Northen and co-workers have been using fluorous immobilization in conjunction with nanostructure initiated mass spec (NIMS) in a number of different applications.  Dr. Northen was one of the inventors of NIMS while working in Gary Siuzdak’s labs at The Scripps Research Institute.  NIMS uses a fluorous siloxane as a initiator and is analogous to MALDI.  Nimzyme is what they dubbed the process by which a fluorous tagged substrate is immobilized on the fluorous siloxane, undergoes a reaction on the surface, and the products then analyzed by MS.  In all the previous cases that have been published the probe molecules have all been tagged with the same fluorous tag, so different substrates lead to different products that are recognized by their mass differences.

But what do you do if your different substrates all lead to the same product?  How then do you differentiate between them? You use a different fluorous tag for each substrate, of course.  Now the mass differentiation comes not from the substrate, but from the fluorous tag which encodes for each substrate and that’s exactly what Northen et al have done in their latest publication in Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry.  They encoded three different disaccharides, maltose (S1), lactose (S2), and cellobiose (S3) with a unique, and mass differentiated, fluorous tag as seen below.  Note that the mass (427.2) of the disaccharide portion is the same for each substrate and that they only differ in stereochemistry, but that after tagging each has a unique mass.  Without the fluorous tag there would not be a simple way to differentiate between these species by MS.

The authors took their mixture of substrates and incubated it with three different enzymes and a mixture of all three.  An aliquot of the reaction was then spotted on a NIMS surface with the fluorous tagged compounds being retained.  As expected, each enzyme reacted stereospecifically with only one of the substrates; a substrate that was easily identified by its unique mass courtesy of the fluorous tag.  When using the mixture of the enzymes, all three were hydrolyzed to a uniquely fluorous tagged glucose.  The authors went on to demonstrate the use of cell lysates rather than purified enzymes and found essentially the same results.  The fluorous NIMS surface is critical in this since the fluorous tagged substrates and products and retained on the surface once spotted and an on-surface enrichment conducted.

The use of different fluorous tags for the encoding of substrates is the key element in fluorous mixture synthesis (FMS), where mixtures of substrates  can be prepared at once and later demixed using fluorous HPLC (F-HPLC) based on fluorous tag length.  In this work, the application is not synthetic, but analytical, and the compounds can be unequivocally indentified through mass, even when working with mixtures of substrates and enzymes.  As the authors note given the vast array of combinations of fluorous tags and linkers that could be made, each with distinct masses, this could be a general method by which to encode enzyme substrate libraries.

Posted in Life Science Applications, Microarray | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Perfluoropolyethers as Fluorous Tags

For the most part fluorous domains used in fluorous biphasic systems have been linear perfluoroalkyls, such as perfluorooctyl moieties.  Branched perfluoralkyls such as perfluorinated t-butyl groups have also been used as tags to facilitate fluorous based separations.  In the 2004 “Handbook of Fluorous Chemistry”, the authors define a fluorous tag as the “portion of domain of a colecule that is rich in sp3 carbon-fluorine bonds and exerts primary control over the separability characgteristics of the molcule in fluorous separation techniques.”  So within that definition does lie moieties that are not necessarily perfluoroalkyls.  These would include perfluoropolyethers, generally in the form of perfluorinated oligoethyleneglycols.

At FTI we have in the past done some cursory examination into the fluorous separation behavior of perfluoropolyethers as fluorous tags and compared them to perfluoroalkyl tags.  What we found, if I recall correctly, was that the oxygens basically functioned much like a CF2, so that a CF2OCF2CF2OCF3 tag had a similar F-HPLC retention time as a C6F13.  This was somewhat surprising since we always used fluorine count as a first approximation of fluorophilicity.  What the F-HPLC experiments told us, however, is that perhaps we should consider the size of the fluorous domain instead, in this case a 6 atom chain that is “rich in sp3 carbon-fluorine bonds”.

A just available paper from Kvicala et al at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague attempts to explain the fluorous behavior of perfluoropolyethers, at least as tags on NHC ligands in silver complexes.  The authors first prepared a series of substituted NHC ligands, either with traditional perfluoroalkyl tags or with perfluoropolyether tags.  They then formed the silver salts of these ligands.  Fluorous partition coefficients were then measured for the ligands and the complexes by partitioning between toluene and perfluoromethylcyclohexane.  The results were fairly striking as seen in the table below.  

Compounds 9a-h were all perfluoroalkyl tagged compounds which essentially had fairly equivalent partition coefficients, something in the single digits.  All of these compounds had a total of 12-16 CF2 or CF3 groups.  Compounds 12b, c, and f, however, were polyfluoroether tagged and possessed dramatically higher partition coefficients.  12b contains only 8 perfluorinated carbons, 12c has 12, and 12f has 10, so the overall fluorine content for compounds 12 is less than 9 yet they are more fluorophilic.  So what’s going on?  Well, if you consider the FTI results mentioned earlier and regard the oxygens in the perfluoropolyether as CF2′s than you get a pseudo-fluorous count for 12b, c, and f of 12, 18, and 15.  That’s now in the range of compounds 9, but still doesn’t account for the greater fluorous partition coefficient.

The authors then turned to computational chemistry.  DFT calculations were conducted on both the NHC ligands and the imidazolium salts.  What these calculations showed was that the most stable conformation of the perfluoroalkyl chain had the chain directed  straight out from the imidizole ring and beasically planar to it.  The perfluoropolyether chains on the other hand were twisted at the carbon-oxygen bond resulting in the chains being out of plane with the heterocyclic ring.  The authors hypothesize that fluorophobic ionic center of the imidizolium salts and the silver complexes are more shielded with the perfluoropolyether chains resulting in a significantly more fluorophilic compounds.  It’s certainly a reasonable hypothesis, particularly when one considers that fluorophilicity is based on solvophobicity more than on any attractive forces.

It’s an interesting paper which shows how structural elements can have profound effects on fluorophilicity.  Something we should certainly keep in mind more often.

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