Mild and Efficient DBU-Catalyzed Amidation of Cyanoacetates

A mild, high-yielding, and practical protocol for the direct amidation of alkyl cyanoacetates using DBU is presented. This method eliminates the need for activation of cyanoacetic acid and/or high temperatures. It has been applied to the large-scale synthesis of CP-690,550-10 (1), a compound under development for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.