Canada Research Chair in Chemical Biology
Tier 1 - 2003-03-01
Natural Sciences and Engineering
Coming to Canada from
University of Wyoming, USA
Examination of discreet molecules in complex biological systems.
Significant advances in the development of new drugs and catalysts.
On the Frontiers of Chemical Biology
The burgeoning field of chemical biology seeks to learn new chemistry from biology.
Chemical biology covers a wide range of scientific approaches, but leading researcher Dr. Scott Bohle defines it as the effort to discover new chemistry by understanding the biochemical logic of complex biological systems.
One way to link chemistry to biology is through combinatorial chemistry, a research field that is routinely used by industry to discover new drugs and develop new catalysts. Its origins are based on perspectives of how the immune system works. In the immune system a small set of genes can be scrambled by application of a small set of rules, resulting in the generation of an enormous number of antibodies. New drugs and catalysts have been generated using this same approach in the laboratory.
Dr. Bohle's current program focuses on applying the principles of chemical biology to increase understanding of nitric oxide biochemistry and the basis of action of the drugs used to treat malaria. He and his team have already made significant strides in these two areas.
Nitric oxide helps maintain blood pressure, aids neural communication and controls infection. Among Dr. Bohle's contributions to understanding the chemistry behind this critical biology was the isolation of peroxynitrite, a key by-product from nitric oxide generation. His team also solved an age-old problem in malaria - understanding how the malaria parasite adapts to living inside red blood cells - by using the techniques of modern solid state physics to uncover the structure of the key haemoglobin metabolite (malaria pigment). Dr. Bohle is convinced that this fundamental discovery will increase understanding of how most well-established antimalarial drugs function. In turn, this knowledge should allow them to enhance the effectiveness of these drugs in reducing or preventing malaria, which is currently rampant in many countries.
Dr. Bohle's latest program will have many practical outcomes and promises to reveal the remarkable chemistry of ostensibly simple molecules.