Drug Discovery

Synthesis restarts at Kyiv-based firms

Staff at Enamine and Life Chemicals have returned to lab work, over a month since Russia invaded Ukraine

Laura Howes

2022-04-16 18:01:44


Enamine chemists at work before the invasion. The company has now restarted its synthesis work.


Russian troops have withdrawn from territory around Kyiv, Ukraine, and pharmaceutical chemical firms are restarting their labs with the aim of returning to some sort of normal.

Kyiv-based companies such as Enamine and Life Chemicals are among the world’s largest providers of the screening compounds and building-block chemicals that drug discovery firms need for early-stage research. When Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the companies had hoped that the disruption to their synthesis work would last only a few days. But it soon became clear that it would not be safe to keep these sites running. Now, work is resuming.

On April 7, Andrey Tolmachov, Enamine’s CEO, announced that the company was heading back to work. The firm would avoid performing large-scale synthesis to start with, he said, but “we confirm that a major part of our synthetic operations can be performed, and that our chemists and biologists are ready and motivated.”

According to head of medicinal chemistry Ivan Kondratov, Enamine’s 300-plus staff members have been keen to get back on the job. Safety remains a priority, however. “Of course, if the situation becomes dangerous again, we are ready to stop operating again,” he says.

Life Chemicals, has restarted shipping from its main storage site in Kyiv in addition to its facilities in Germany and the US. Vasily Pinchuk, the firm’s vice president of sales and marketing, says its chemists have also resumed lab work. “People who remained in Kyiv are back at work and many of those who left to safer areas, are on their way back,” Pinchuk says in an email. “Things are still far from being normal but definitely moving that way.”

European leaders including European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and UK prime minister Boris Johnson recently visited Kyiv, showing the change of situation in the Ukrainian capital. Russian aggression has now turned to the country’s south and east, which house manufacturing sites for other facets of Ukraine’s chemical industry.