Mimetic design

Structure of the cationic antimicrobial peptide gramicidin S

Molecular mimetics are compounds resembling bio-molecules by having similar chemical-, structural- or biological characteristics. The organic chemist working in this field of expertise is ultimately aiming for the development of substances that can compete with the ones made in nature.
Early examples from our group include the development of synthetic protocols for the construction of oligomers of phosphor-thioate nucleic acids. Nucleic acid oligomers mimetics of this type, have the same hybridizing properties as their natural counterparts, but are much less susceptible for enzymatic degradation by nucleases and thus useful in an antisense approach.
Current research in mimetic design includes the construction, structural elucidation and biological evaluation of sugar amino acids and derivatives (see Figure). Sugar amino acids are sugar derivatives having at least one amino- and one carboxylic acid functionality. This versatile class of compounds, also found in nature, can be used for the construction of both glyco- and peptidomimetics.