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Recognition and Cleavage of Biological Phosphates – Molecular Recognition, Mechanism and Biomedical Applications

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Promoting expertise in chemical biology

Determining the molecular basis of life requires an understanding of chemistry as well as molecular and cell biology. EU funding is providing opportunities to scientists to garner expertise in the field of chemical biology.


Through chemical biology, scientists can obtain a strong quantitative understanding of biological systems, structural biology and recombinant DNA technology. To facilitate transfer of such skills to researchers, eight European research groups joined forces under the aegis of the project PHOSCHEMREC (Recognition and cleavage of biological phosphates – Molecular recognition, mechanism and biomedical applications). The PHOSCHEMREC training network provided hands-on research experience and formal training to young researchers in chemical biology using biophysical, biochemical and organic synthesis approaches. Topics covered included drug development, computational skills, molecular recognition, nucleic acids and RNA handling techniques. Besides key technical areas, other areas addressed were entrepreneurial awareness, intellectual property and grant writing. Phosphate group transfer is a key biological process. The focus of this project was elucidating its role in biological regulation mechanisms ranging from enzyme and enzyme models to transcriptional regulators and gene therapy technologies. Network researchers were highly successful in their endeavours. Research outcomes provided novel insight into phosphate transfer mechanisms and enabled rational manipulation of certain biologically relevant enzymes. Besides chemical systems with designed molecular recognition features, researchers also developed easy-to-use ultra-high-throughput screening systems for enzyme selections from man-made and metagenomic libraries. Drug-delivery systems were constructed for cellular delivery of phosphate binders or cleavers that showed great promise in therapeutic applications. The exchange of young researchers between groups helped establish genuine collaborative efforts resulting in new lines of research. Some of the network researchers' projects were so successful the undertaking led to the founding of a spin-off company. PHOSCHEMREC activities should positively impact the long-term future of European scientific research and economy through the education of scientists in the interdisciplinary field of chemical biology. Breakthroughs in this field will significantly improve public health through development of novel theranostic agents and personalised medicine.


Chemical biology, cell biology, biological phosphates, molecular recognition, biomedical

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