Final Report Summary - DYCOCA (DYNAMIC COVALENT CAPTURE: Dynamic Chemistry for Biomolecular Recognition and Catalysis)
The interaction between molecules is of fundamental importance in (bio)chemical processes. For example, the effect of a pharmaceutical drug originates from its specific interaction with a protein and the ability of a catalyst to accelerate a chemical reaction derives from its interactions with the transition state of that reaction. These noncovalent interactions are often weak and difficult to quantify. The DYCOCA-project was centered around the following question: is it possible to enhance the interaction between two (or more) molecules by forcing them to stay in close proximity ? Two strategies have been developed relying either on the formation of reversible covalent bonds between two molecules or the self-assembly of multiple small molecules on gold nanoparticles. Both strategies have led to dynamic systems because of the reversibility of the used interactions. This dynamicity permitted the systems to adapt spontaneously to changes in the environment, which is a phenomenon also referred to as Darwinian evolution on the molecular level. This concept has been exploited for the development of catalysts and innovative (bio)assays able to detect small molecules, metal ions or enzymes.