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Department of Chemistry
Research in this lab is focused on the chemistry and applications of biologically important molecules, such as nucleic acids and carbohydrates. Some directions of research are summarized below.
Chemical modification of nucleotides
Work is underway to introduce various modifications, such as fluorophores and photosensitive moieties to nucleosides, and to explore their biochemical applications. One such modification involves the incorporation of moieties that undergo conformational/configurational changes upon exposure to light of selected wavelength. As a consequence of these changes, hybridization/binding properties are altered. We are also working towards labelling nucleic acids using inverse electron demand Diels-Alder reaction. This approach will allow for nucleic acid labelling at rates that are relevant to cellular concentrations of nucleic acids.
Cyclic oligonucleotides and analogues as potential mucosal vaccine adjuvants
There is a largely unmet requirement for safe and effective mucosal vaccine adjuvants to combat the ever-increasing mucosal infectious and inflammatory diseases. In collaboration with immunologists, we are working on cyclic olignucleotides to screen their immunostimulatory activities and potentials to enhance the efficacy of vaccines against a number of bacterial infections. We are particularly interested in identifying cyclic oligonucleotides as suitable nasal and oral vaccine adjuvants.
Bacterial biofilm formation and quorum sensing
Bacteria undergo phenotypic transitions between planktonic and biofilm forms in response to changes in environmental conditions. The biofilm phenotype has attracted significant attention in healthcare and industry due to their unique traits, such as antibiotic resistance. We are interested in identifying compounds that interfere with the transition to the biofilm phenotype. We are also interested in the bacterial quorum sensing signalling cascade that allow bacteria to adapt as a result of cell density. In particular, work in is progress to identify autoinducers in particular bacterial species, and to establish links between the signalling pathways enabled by bacterial second messengers and autoinducers.
Interaction of microwave with biomolecules
We are interested in understanding the interactions of electromagnetic wave, particularly microwave, with molecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. Towards this end, work in is progress to determine the impact of microwave exposure on the enzyme activity and behaviours of nucleic acids.