Chair of Bioorganic Chemistry
The bioorganics are people who observe and explain biological objects and events in chemical terms. For example some behavioural peculiarities or a disease can be seen as multiple of chemical processes taking place or occurring in an incorrect way or being absent.
In everyday life bioorganics mostly work with different proteins and their respective partners – signalling molecules. To analyse the „lock-and-key" components, proteins and signalling molecules, respectively, various chromatographic and spectroscopic methods are used; as well as means of organic synthesis are used to make the „keys"; background knowledge of physical chemistry on the other hand is needed to understand the velocity and equilibrium of biochemical reactions.
Often models are constructed by using methods of gene technology to study some specific proteins in a more simple system. An example of a model like this is a cell culture expressing proteins of interest. Using models as such is useful when trying to study only few selected processes in a time.
Professor Ago Rinken and leading scientist Asko Uri manage two workgroups in the Department of Bioorganic Chemistry, respectively. Their work is related to two of the most popular protein families in current pharmaceutical industry, namely:
- Development of G-Protein Coupled Receptors, membrane proteins, which transmit extracellular, signals using G-proteins.
- Development of biochemical tools applicable for studies of protein kinase signaling
The main areas of interest concerning the receptors are:
- How does the recognition occur between a receptor and a substance (endogenous signalling molecule or a drug).
- How is the signal transmitted to the cell and which proteins and signalling pathways are activated upon a certain drug.
- How these signal cascades are connected to behavioural peculiarities and diseases both in animal and human.
- New methods of fluorescence spectroscopy are being used extensively i.e. for measuring the level of intracellular signalling molecules with certain biosensors.
The main areas of interest concerning the protein kinases are:
- The design and synthesis of inhibitors for protein kinases, whereas the location of certain chemical groups of an inhibitor is optimised by using a crystal structure of an inhibitor-bound protein kinase as a basis.
- Developing analysis methods to show how fast, tightly and specifically an inhibitor binds to a kinase. Such methods include optical spectroscopy, surface plasmon resonance and thin layer chromatography.
- Developing analysis methods to determine the concentration of protein kinases in a given sample, i.e. blood of a cancer patient. Methods used herein include affinity chromatography and many fluorescence-based methods.
(Medicinal Chemistry Research Group)
In conclusion, the bioorganics in The Institute of Chemistry deal with hot topics in the current world of science, using a broad spectrum of different approaches, from drug design to molecular biology, from physical chemistry to behavioural sciences.
Both, people interested in „pure science" or the ones looking for its practical application may feel themselves at home with us!