Molecular Engines for Drug Synthesis

Enzymes, the huge proteins that catalyze chemical reactions such as fermentation and photosynthesis, have striking potential for medicine, says Sophie G. Bender, a doctoral student in the department of chemistry and chemical biology, in a Cornell Research profile.

Sophie Bender
Sophie Bender

Currently, it is uncommon for enzymes to be used in organic chemical reactions, such as those required for making medicine. But working in the lab of professor Todd K. Hyster, Bender aims to demonstrate the advantages of using enzymes in drug synthesis.

“Enzymes are nature’s perfect little chemistry machines,” Bender says in the profile. “When a new, small molecule is added to an enzyme, so much can change from the resulting cascade of different protein interactions. Enzymes are unparalleled in their ability to carefully control the orientation and reactions of different molecules. With the right enzyme, you could make an otherwise very difficult reaction relatively easy.”

Read the story on the Cornell Research website.

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Gloved hand holding a test tube in a lab
Provided A centrifugal concentrator tube containing purified GluER T36A enzyme. Its yellow color comes from the presence of the flavin cofactor within the enzyme, essential for its function.