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Chemist solves riddle of killer diseases
Date:6/23/2011

Pedersen was able to fabricate the molecule from scratch.

"Biologists have been trying to isolate this poison from living organisms for years. But the substance has a number of active groups. That is to say, the spiked parts of the molecule which enable the entire molecule to bind to cells. This makes it extremely difficult to purify. And dirty molecules are not conducive to viable research. Therefore, it's a great advantage to fabricate the substance synthetically, because we can "build" a molecule in which everything is included... Or where we ourselves decide which part of the structure to leave out," says Christian Marcus Pedersen.

Tiresome task but outstanding results

Lipoteichoic acid consists of 335 atoms combined in tangle, the complexity of which has made it difficult to collect. To create pure and intact molecules, Pedersen needed to complete 88 so-called synthesis steps. That is to say that 88 distinct "recipes", all of which needed to function, were required in order to reach the final result. These synthetic biomolecules are a fantastic tool for biologists in the investigation of Gram-positive bacteria's attack mechanisms.

"When it comes to these bacteria, there is still no one who knows precisely what on the bacteria activates the immune system. But we can build the precise parts of the structure that we want to. And biologists can examine how what we have built reacts with the immune system," says Pedersen.


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Contact: Christian Marcus Pedersen
cmp@chem.ku.dk
453-532-0190
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert  

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