Area of Excellence Institute of Molecular Technology for Drug Discovery and Sysnthesis

Research Content

Open Laboratory of Chemical Biology ~ Convener: C.-M. Che (HKU)

Research activities in the Open Laboratory of Chemical Biology entail two major areas, namely (1) Chemical Biology of Metal Ions/Inorganic Medicines and Traditional Chinese Medicines/Natural Products, and (2) Biological Mechanism and Biomimetic Oxidation.

Chemical Biology of Metal Ions/Inorganic Medicines and Traditional Chinese Medicines/Natural Products

Understanding the mechanism of interaction between biomacromolecules (proteins, enzymes and nucleic acids) and ligands (small molecules) constitutes a central theme of Chemical Biology. A major theme is to study interactions of structurally defined metal compounds and biologically important metal ions with biomolecular targets. We aim to discover novel and promising lead compounds in the development of new anti-cancer and anti-viral drugs. Working closely with the Central Laboratory, our team will evaluate libraries of compounds for desirable biological activities (e.g. cytotoxicities) using animal models.

Chemical Biology of well-defined compounds from Traditional Chinese Medicines / natural products (e.g. Pseudolaric acids and endoperoxides) will also be investigated. Our team will collaborate with the group working on Glycoscience and Stereoselective Synthesis of Natural Products and the Open Laboratory of Chirotechnology for structural modification of the drug candidates and creation of libraries of bioactive compounds derived from herbal medicines and natural products.

Biological Mechanism and Biomimetic Oxidation

The central focus is to elucidate the mechanistic details of the production and regulation of oxygenated radicals. Recent undertakings focus on the study of NO production by nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and the oxidation mechanism of amine to nitrite catalyzed by metalloporphyrins.

Highly enantio- and regio-selective (biomimetic) atom and group transfer reactions are important tools for organic reactions. Our team has developed processes for biomimetic oxidations and related catalytic organic transformations involving highly reactive metal-ligand multiple bonded species. In collaboration with the Open Laboratory of Chirotechnology, these synthetic technologies will be evaluated for their economic and technical feasibility in large-scale industrial applications.