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This is the second year that the University of Sydney's Open Source Malaria Consortium has done outreach work with Sydney Grammar. The consortium's guiding principle is to use publicly available drugs and medical approaches to cure malaria.
The students started with 17 grams of the raw material 2,4-chlorophenyl acetonitrile, also called (4-chlorophenyl)acetonitrile. You can buy it online at $36.50 for 100 grams.
To make the Daraprim, the boys worked through a number of steps with their chemistry teacher, Dr Malcolm Binns.
"We couldn't use the patented route as it involved dangerous reagents," he said.
Dr Williamson, Dr Binns and the boys had to find an innovative pathway from the starting compound to the end result.
They synthesised the end-product last week. Dr Williamson tested its purity in a spectrograph at university.
"It's one of the most beautiful spectrographs I've ever seen, actually," she said.
From the 17 grams starting material, the boys produced 3.7 grams of pyrimethamine, the chemical name of Daraprim.
"That's about $US110,000 worth of the drug," Dr Williams said, based on the price mark-up of Turing Pharmaceuticals.