Illustration: Harris Fristrup

DTU Chemistry researchers mimic nature's building blocks in unique way

Thursday 25 Jun 15


Pernille Harris
Associate Professor
DTU Chemistry
+45 45 25 20 24

Chemists from DTU are finding new ways to combine atoms and molecules to create 3D structures that are stable and thus behave as the chemists would like them to. The new findings have just been published in Nature Communications

by Charlotte Malassé


For the first time, we have succeeded in getting beta-peptoids to fold into a spiral—a so-called helix which is a stable structure. Beta-peptoids are imitations of the body's natural amino acids, the so-called peptides.

The synthetic peptoids cannot be degraded in the body like the natural building blocks. This stability in the body can be an advantage if the peptoids are to be used as future medicines.

The potential in these new findings is the development of new medicines with specific properties.

Synergy between experiment and computer modelling

Behind the findings are:

Professor Christian Adam Olsen who this spring moved from DTU Chemistry to the Center for Biopharmaceuticals, University of Copenhagen, and PhD student Jonas S. Laursen. They work with organic synthesis chemistry and chemical biology and have synthesized and crystallized the molecules for this project.

Associate Professor Pernille Harris from DTU Chemistry has solved the crystal structure, making it possible to see that the peptiods fold into a spiral, a helix, which is a stable structure.

Using computer modelling, Associate Professor Peter Fristrup from DTU Chemistry demonstrated that the helix structure is also stable in solutions and not just in crystalline form.

The four researchers have combined their competencies and found synergies in the cross-field between the experimental approach and computer modelling.

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