We are interested in doing research at the interphase of chemistry and biology with a focus on using peptides and small molecules in solving biological problems.
Our expertise in the area of medicinal chemistry and organic chemistry provided diverse research interests. Some areas of major interest include developing neurotherapeutic agents using peptides and small molecules, targeted delivery of anticancer drugs to the tumor, developing bisubstrate inhibitors of protein kinases, and developing antimicrobial agents.
- Developing Neurotherapeutic Agents: We are interested in developing a potent compound that will modulate the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)/Tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB) receptor signaling pathways to treat Angelman Syndrome (AS), Parkinson’s, and ALS. AS is a severe neurogenetic disorder that occurs in one in 15,000 live births with no available drug therapy. This project originates based on developed peptidomimetic CN2097 using rational drug design approaches for AS and neuroprotective agents in the lab of collaborator Dr. John Marshall at Brown University. We as a medicinal chemist in this interdisciplinary team of the investigators are interested in designing and synthesizing various analogs of the potent CN2097 compound to tune physicochemical property without changing potency. This proposal harnesses medicinal chemistry-centered strategies to modulate properties of CN2097 and develop libraries of potent analogs.
- Tumor-targeted Drug Delivery: This project laid on the cutting edge discovery of Dr. Erkki Ruoslahti for finding overexpressed integrin receptor as a biomarker for tumor targeting. We are interested in using an established tumor targeting agent and FDA-approved anticancer drug, to develop compounds that can target tumor, release the anticancer drug to the site of the tumor, and inhibit metastasis of cancer. We are also exploring extra cellular matrix (ECM) based biomarker such as overexpressed fibronectin in targeting tumor and developing a tumor-targeted therapy for Prostate Cancer.
- Development of Bisubstrate Inhibitors of Anticancer Agents: Protein Tyrosine Kinases (PTKs) play an important role in development and progression of cancer. Developing specific inhibitor will help in curing cancer. We are interested in developing specificity to various PTK inhibitors to target a particular member of Tyrosine Kinase family. We select FDA approved anticancer drug to conjugate with a specific peptide sequence binding to tyrosine kinase (TK) domain sequence to develop specificity among the family members of PTKs.
- Development of Antimicrobial Agents: Cationic peptides are well reported with the antimicrobial property. This project is developed with our mutual interest with Dr. K. Parang who identified a potent cyclic peptide [W4R4] to kill methicillin-resistant aureus(MRSA) and other resistant strains in the lab assay. The aim and objective of this project are to develop small molecule like compounds to treat MRSA after optimization of core peptide sequence. A clinical microbiologist, Dr. Jason Yamaki, at CUSP, is helping in the evaluation of these newly developed analogs in MRSA and other clinical strains.
- Development of synthetic methodology: This proposal originated based on our core background in the area of synthetic chemistry. We are interested in developing novel synthetic methodologies to develop fused heterocyclic compound to treat various diseases.