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Amino acid esters refer to those derivatives of amino acids in which the carboxylic acid group is converted to an ester. Amino acid esters are employed as intermediates in organic synthesis and find application in a wide-range of areas such as medicinal chemistry, peptide synthesis, asymmetric synthesis, and polymer chemistry.
Amino acid esters are versatile chiral auxiliary groups that are employed for the asymmetric synthesis of pharmaceutically important nitrogen heterocycles. They are also useful as precursors for the synthesis of chiral amino alcohols which find application among other things as chiral catalysts or in the preparation of chiral auxiliaries for asymmetric transformations. Amino acid esters find use in pharmaceuticals as anticancer agent and antiviral drugs. Amino acid esters are employed as prodrugs to increase oral bioavailability in pharmaceuticals, for example, in certain antiviral nucleoside drugs. Amino acid esters are incorporated as specific side groups in order to make biostable polyphosphazenes, which are biodegradable. Some of the most widely studied synthetic degradable polyelectrolytes that find use in a number of biological applications, ranging from biomedical implant coatings and immunostimulants to vehicles for drug and nucleic acid delivery, are based on polyphosphazene and poly(beta-amino ester) scaffolds.