Prof. David A. Colby’s safer, easier and “greener” method to incorporate fluorine into organic compounds — a common step in materials processing, drug discovery and synthesis of agricultural treatments — has been licensed to a subsidiary of Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, a St. Louis-based life science and high technology company. Colby, an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry and organic chemistry, developed a chemical reagent that safely makes fluorine available during the creation of a new chemical compound. The reagent could provide drug manufacturers an improved method for using fluorine in the drug discovery process and enhance large-scale production of drugs for pharmaceutical manufacturers.
R. Graham Cooks, the Henry Bohn Hass Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Purdue University, is the recipient of the 2013 Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences, conferred this year in chemical instrumentation. He will be formally honored this fall at Purdue University with a $250,000 prize and a medal. An innovative giant in the field of mass spectrometry, Cooks has enriched analytical chemistry in unparalleled ways. Among their accomplishments, Cooks and his team have created miniature mass spectrometers, enabling their remote deployment even under battery power. Once roughly as large as automobiles, mass spectrometers now are available in sizes as small as shoeboxes, allowing their widespread use in clinics, homeland security, the military and food safety.
As the H7N9 avian influenza outbreak in China worsens, Prof. Suresh Mittal is working on vaccines that offer broader protection against multiple strains of the virus. “Avian influenza viruses are moving targets that rapidly evolve and evade vaccines that are specific to a predicted strain,” says Mittal, who created vaccines for past strains of bird flu and continues to collaborate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We need a vaccine that protects against a spectrum of strains to prepare for a potential pandemic. Such a vaccine may not offer full protection from the strain that pops up, but even partial protection could save lives and buy time to create a more effective vaccine.”
Researchers have discovered that rising temperature induces key changes in the dengue virus when it enters its human host, and the findings represent a new approach for designing vaccines against the aggressive mosquito-borne pathogen.
The researchers found that the dengue virus particles swell slightly and take on a bumpy appearance when heated to human body temperature, exposing "epitopes," or regions where antibodies could attach to neutralize the virus.
Researchers have learned the precise structure of the mosquito-transmitted chikungunya virus pathogen while it is bound to antibodies, showing how the infection is likely neutralized.
The findings could help researchers develop effective vaccines against the infection, which causes symptoms similar to dengue fever, followed by a prolonged disease that affects the joints and causes severe arthritis. In recent outbreaks, some cases progressed to fatal encephalitis.
New research findings may help scientists design drugs to treat a virus infection that causes potentially fatal brain swelling and paralysis in children.
The virus, called enterovirus 71, causes hand, foot and mouth disease and is common throughout the world. Although that disease usually is not fatal, the virus has been reported to cause fatal encephalitis in infants and young children, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region.
While studying a mutant strain of yeast, Purdue University researchers may have found a new target for drugs to combat cholesterol and fungal diseases. Scott Briggs, an associate professor of biochemistry, and Paul South, a postdoctoral researcher, were looking at how histones, the proteins that DNA wraps itself around, are affected by environmental factors, a field called epigenetics. When histones are modified, they change how genes are expressed and how cells behave.
Purdue University and Indiana University Health Arnett have embarked on a joint clinical research study on colorectal cancer, focused on broadening participation from patients in more rural parts of the state. Research teams from the two universities are working with colorectal cancer data to develop tools for helping improve prevention, treatment and care of those with cancer. With the clinical data, researchers are refining statistical and engineering simulation models to predict how to treat and possibly prevent cancer.
David Colby has been elected as secretary/treasurer for the Drug Discovery and Development Interface Section of the American Association Pharmaceutical Scientists. Colby is an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology.