Okano and Beppu isolated a new isoflavone from soya bean and from its degradation reactions, they assigned to it the constitution of 8-methyl genistein. A synthesis of this compound starting from C-methyl phloroglucinol α-monomethyl ether was also reported by Shriner and Hull.
An easier method of synthesis of a compound of this structure has now been described, in which the main stage is the nuclear methylation of 2∶4∶6-trihydroxy-4′-methoxy phenyl benzyl ketone. The constitution of the product of this reaction is established by an independent synthesis from C-methyl phloroglucinol. Though this synthesis of 8-methyl genistein involves demethylation of its trimethyl ether with hydriodic acid, the absence of any rearrangement during this step has been established particularly by remethylation. The products of the present synthesis are found to be very different from the natural compound and its derivatives described by Okano and Beppu and therefore it is considered that the natural compound cannot have the constitution assigned to it.
Partial demethylation of 8-methyl genistein trimethyl ether with hydriodic acid gives rise to 8-methyl prunetin which on partial methylation yields 8-methyl-5-hydroxy-7: 4′-dimethoxy isoflavone. This is different from the C-monomethyl-O-dimethyl genistein obtained by Perkin and Horsfall by nuclear methylation of genistein. Therefore the product of Perkin and Horsfall may have the methyl group in the 6-position as suggested by earlier workers.