RESEARCH IN CHEMICAL BIOLOGY
Due to the multidisciplinary nature of the program in Chemical Biology, the main research areas have been chosen to elaborate on the interface between Chemistry and Biology, including other related fields, such as Pharmacology. Our main research activities can be categorized into 3 major areas.
1. Organic Synthesis/Medicinal Chemistry
Development of synthetic methods and total synthesis of complex natural products are the two main focuses. Currently, our interests in synthetic methodologies are the use of microwave as an alternative source of energy, solid-supported reagents in organic synthesis, metal-mediated coupling reactions, and stereoselective reactions. On the other hand, a number of effective synthetic routes have been successfully developed for natural products with potential medicinal applications, such as the lamellarins. More recently, we have also initiated the investigation of possible molecular mechanism(s) of anticancer action of compounds in the families of lamellarins and combretastatins whose structure-activity relationships (SARs) have been established in our laboratory.
2. Natural Products Chemistry
As a country in the tropical region, Thailand has a great luxury of abundance in natural diversity. Thus, research in natural products has become an important integral part of chemistry research in Thailand. Extraction, isolation, purification, and structure elucidation constitute the regular activities in natural product research. Sources of natural products have expanded from plants to marine organisms and, more recently, microorganisms. Natural products are a significant repertoire of chemicals for their direct use as well as serving as templates for other modifications which can lead to drugs, food supplements, and cosmetics.
3. Chemistry and Biology of Biomolecules
The main theme of this research is the application of integrated and multidisciplinary approaches to solve important problems involving biomolecules, especially proteins and carbohydrates. Our current focus is on Chemistry and Biology of some cyclic peptides, such as the cereulides which are bacterial toxins normally found as contaminants in some foods, such as milk, dairy products, and cooked rice. Some protein-linked cereulides can be employed as antigens to elicit the production of antibodies which can then be included as part of the diagnostic kit to detect the cereulides in some contaminated food samples. In addition, there have been some interests in cyclic peptide nanotubes (CPNs) which can be developed and utilized as drug delivery systems.