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New understanding of how big molecules bind will lead to better drugs, synthetic organic materials
Date:2/21/2008

ccording to the ESF workshop convenor, Professor Anthony Davis from Bristol University in the UK. But the most important aspect of the ESF workshop was the bringing together of scientists in two previously distinct fields, said Davis. Our main aim was to get two groups of scientists talking to each other - the supramolecular chemists, and a group of biologists who might be termed biomolecular engineers, said Davis. Certainly this objective was fulfilled. Supramolecular chemists study and manipulate the interactions between molecules in general, while biomolecular engineers specialise in exploiting the large organic molecules found in Nature.

Biological macromolecules include proteins comprising amino acids, complex carbohydrates made from simpler sugar molecules, as well as both RNA and DNA made from nucleic acids. Unlike small molecules, these large constructions exhibit multiple chemical properties at different parts of their surface, which means that interactions between them depend on geometrical features. It is the geometrical arrangement of the component parts, as much as their chemical identity, that determines how a macromolecule will behave and interact with other molecules both large and small. Some molecules will only react or bind with certain others, often temporarily, on a lock and key basis determined by the relative shapes of the surface. Such transient associations between large molecules (supramolecules) are very important in biology, for example in the binding between antibodies and antigens in the immune response, and also between an enzyme and its substrate, i.e. the compound it is acting upon.

These looser interactions between large molecules are called non-covalent because they do not involve sharing of electrons, but instead exploit variations in electrical charge distribution in their vicinity. Since each individual bond is weak, non-covalent bonding relies on the collective strength of multiple bonds and is therefore onl
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Contact: Anthony Davis
Anthony.Davis@bristol.ac.uk
44-117-954-6334
European Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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