James A. Cooper, Steven T. G. Street and Prof. Anthony P. Davis*
Transmembrane anion carriers (anionophores) have potential for biological activity, including the treatment of channelopathies such as cystic fibrosis. A new family of anionophores has been synthesized, in which three thiourea groups are mounted on a cyclohexane-based scaffold. Though conceptually related to earlier polycyclic systems, these molecules are simpler and far more accessible. Preorganization is somewhat reduced compared to earlier systems, and anion affinities are correspondingly lower. However, transport activities set new records. This surprising performance suggests a role for controlled flexibility in the design of transmembrane anion carriers.