Our research group is interested in the design and synthesis of biologically important molecules. There are two types of molecules we are currently working on. The first is a biomimetic compound which is designed to act like an enzyme and incorporating the cofactor Thiamine. This compound uses an organic scaffold to position reactive functional groups in the proper orientation to achieve a very high degree of selectivity, much like a natural enzyme. However, the compound is much smaller than an enzyme and is more easily modified to introduce new reactivity or selectivity. Students working on this project gain valuable skills in organic synthesis, the design of backbone structure, and modern structure and conformation elucidation.
The second project involves the design and synthesis of new inhibitors for the protein HIV-1 integrase. Integrase is a protein which is very important in the life cycle of the HIV virus. Integrase catalyzes the incorporation of the viral genome into the host DNA, a very important step in propagation of the virus. Our inhibitor are designed to bind tightly to the active site of the enzyme, preventing it from incorporating the viral genome into the host. Students working on this project gain valuable skills in the design, synthesis, and testing of enzyme inhibitors.
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