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Oxetanes are heterocyclic organic compounds with a four-membered ring with three carbon atoms and one oxygen atom. In the field of pharmaceuticals, oxetane fragments are often employed as bio-isosteres for gem-dimethyl and carbonyl groups. In drug discovery, the introduction of an oxetane is found to favourably modulate the physiochemical and pharmacokinetic profile of the molecules (Wuitschik, G.; Carreira, E. M.; Wagner, B.; Fischer, H.; Parrilla, I.; Schuler, F.; Rogers-Evans, M.; Muller, K. Oxetanes in Drug Discovery: Structural and Synthetic Insights. J. Med. Chem., 2010, 53, 3227-3246). An example of a natural product containing an oxetane ring is taxol, which has evinced considerable interest among researchers due to its success in the treatment of cancer.
Oxetane compounds are highly reactive and will polymerize when ring-opening occurs. When compared to conventional epoxy compounds as monomers, oxetanes are unique UV photo-cationic monomers showing better performance. For instance, they are effective in reducing viscosity and increasing the cure speed of glycidyl ethers.