Amides are undeniably some of the most important compounds in Nature and the chemical industry, being present in biomolecules, materials, pharmaceuticals and many other substances. Unfortunately, the traditional synthesis of amides suffers from some important drawbacks, principally the use of stoichiometric activators or the need to use highly reactive carboxylic acid derivatives. In recent years, the transamidation reaction has emerged as a valuable alternative to prepare amides. The reactivity of amides makes their direct reaction with nitrogen nucleophiles difficult; thus, the direct transamidation reaction needs a catalyst in order to activate the amide moiety and to promote the completion of the reaction because equilibrium is established. In this review, we present research on direct transamidation reactions ranging from studies of the mechanism to the recent developments of more applicable and versatile methodologies, emphasizing those reactions involving activation with metal catalysts.
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