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However, it was quickly discovered that the drug was a teratogen, causing varying birth defects in the child. It was found that the drug was prescribed as a racemic mixture, meaning it contained a mixture of mirror images (stereoisomers).
Despite one stereoisomer being effective in controlling morning sickness the other was causing the deffects.
Another good example of the importance of stereochemistry is pharmaceutical production and the break down of drugs in the body.
Most drugs are often composed of a single stereoisomer of a compound, and while one stereoisomer may have positive effects on the body the other may have negative effects.
In living organisms chiral molecules are usually present in only one of their chiral forms.
For Example the amino acids that make up proteins are only found as their L iosmers whereas glucose only occurs as its D isomer.
Because of this fact mass amounts of research has gone into finding ways to produce compounds that are purely one stereoisomer.
But not all stereoisomers are in such sharp contrast (Positive/Negative).