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In the field of organic chemistry, sulfur (or sulphur) containing carbon compounds are referred to as organosulfur compounds. Organosulfur compounds are responsible for the kind of unpleasant odors of decaying organic matter. Among the 20 common amino acids, two are organosulfur compounds. Thioether, thioester, thiol derivatives, thiourea, sulfonamides, and sulfoxide are some of the important classes of sulfur products. Sulfur compounds are involved in many chemical reactions as useful intermediates including the Herz reaction, which is a chemical reaction of an aniline-derivative with disulfur dichloride to give an organosulfur compound, Herz salt, as an intermediate from which the corresponding sodium thiolate is formed.
The role of sulfur products in medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry is highly remarkable. Many of the life saving drugs such as cephalosporin compounds, penems and penicillins are sulfur compounds. Similarly sulfonamide serves as the basis for many of the life-saving drugs called sulfa drugs. Sulfa drugs act as anti-micorobial and anti-bacterial agents. The widely used proton pump inhibitors are sulfoxides. In addition to this, sulfur products are used in numerous applications in the chemical industry including fire-fighting foams (e.g. perfluorooctanesulfonic acid), repellents preparations, agricultural chemicals, and organic solvents (such as dimethyl sulfoxide). Many commercial elastomers contain polysulfides as crosslinks. Thioindoxyl derivatives are important intermediates in the synthesis of some dyes.