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Molecular probes for biology research and drug discovery

While the field of genetics investigates and influences the life's processes by modifying the genes themselves, the field of chemical genetics pursues this goal using chemical compounds that modulate the functioning of the gene and its products (proteins, RNA, etc.). Therefore, chemists, biochemists and biologists from six Max Planck Institutes will work together in the new "Chemical Genomics Centre" in Dortmund in the search for small molecules that allow the study of fundamental life-science processes and the involved biological macromolecules. The Max Planck Society invests a total sum of 5 million euro. The chemical compounds will be designed and made based on natural products analogues, via combinatorial chemistry or rational design and their biological relevance will be tested subsequently in plants, animals and micro-organisms. In this way, molecules shall be identified that are capable of targeting disease relevant proteins or that are candidates for crop protection.

Image: Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology In the past decade it became increasingly clear that all biological processes in principal rely on chemical processes and are governed by the structure of the participating molecules and their interactions. Biological processes can be treated as chemical processes and studied in molecular detail. Nevertheless, up to today for only 500 of the over 100.00 proteins encoded by the human genome a chemical compound is known that interacts with and influences the protein. Therefore research following the sequencing of the genome is increasingly focussed on the function of its proteins and their interactions with small molecules (modulators). A new approach for this is Chemical Genomics. What is chemical genomics?

Chemical genomics uses drug-like molecules as modulating ligands for cell-biology research, to clarify for example the function of a certain gene product. For a long time such probe-molecules were only f
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Contact: Dr. Herbert Waldmann
herbert.waldmann@mpi-dortmund.mpg.de
49-231-133-2400
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
26-Jan-2005


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