Chemical and Structural Biology

PCCR researchers in the Chemical and Structural Biology Program use a wide range of chemical, biochemical and structural approaches to: 

  • Investigate the underlying mechanisms involved in cancer.
  • Identify unique biological targets for chemotherapy.
  • Develop potential chemical approaches to cancer treatments. 

The two disciplines have specific characteristics that contribute to an especially enlightening combination in cancer research. 

Structural biology

Structural biology approaches allow program members to address the molecular mechanism of target molecules using high-resolution NMR, X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy along with a supporting array of biophysical techniques. By developing a structural understanding of these molecules and their interactions, members can provide a chemical framework on which mutations and modifications associated with cancer can be understood and from which new potential inhibitors can be developed

Chemical biology

Chemical biology provides another highly effective approach for identifying these critical targets and can also probe the biochemical details of cancer-relevant molecules in a high-throughput fashion. By applying groundbreaking chemical methodology, this area of research can then drive the development of unique chemical entities that amplify and complement the research being done in therapeutics development, delivery and imaging efforts in the other PCCR programs. 

Combining the disciplines

The combination of these two approaches in this program proves to be complementary in research involving: 

  • Intracellular signaling pathways, the cell cycle and cancer.
  • Tools for treatment analysis and prevention of human cancers.
  • Unique target structures for chemotherapy.
  • Membrane proteins in chemotherapy. 

Program leaders 

John Tesmer, Leader (Biological Sciences)


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