Molecular probes for biology research and drug discovery

ound via serendipitous discoveries and observations. Progress in the automation and parallelisation of chemical synthesis and biological analysis enables the systematic search of modulators of protein function for the investigation of biological phenomena.

Image: Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology

The research approach defined as "chemical genetics" (the study of individual gene products using a combination of chemical and biological methods), and "chemical genomics" (the analogous study of the products of a gene family has certain advantages over the genetic methods: The effects of small molecules are generally fast and reversible due to the metabolism and excretion of the molecules. This enables the transient study of proteins. The effect is tuneable, as a varying concentration can result in different degrees of phenotype expression. On top of that, the effect can be initiated and studied at different stages in the development of the organism. Finally, the access to small molecule probes enables anyone to study the effect.

How to find molecular probes for chemical genetics?

Chemical genetics has as a goal to identify substances or molecules that bind with high affinity and specificity to one or a few of the around 100.00 different proteins. Methods developed for combinatorial chemistry enable the synthesis of biological potentially relevant libraries of chemical compounds. An additional source for molecular probes is the isolation or chemical total synthesis of "natural compounds". These are generally complex molecules synthesized by animals or plants and have been optimized for a specific purpose over a period of millions of years via an evolutionary process.

The molecular libraries will subsequently be tested in a variety of biological screens. In these automated tests the screens are monitored via for example optical methods that determine morphological changes of the cells or of complete orga

Contact: Dr. Herbert Waldmann

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