In the field of chemical biology, chemists and biologists cooperate to investigate, and eventually control, the behavior of cells. The scientists use small molecules that activate certain proteins to study how cells communicate, and ultimately they want to be able to prevent disease-causing interactions and understand how medicines and environmental toxins work on a cellular level.
The potential applications of research in chemical biology are unlimited. A number of serious diseases that lack effective treatments are currently being studied. Many of them will be discussed on 24-25 August when the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology host the Functional Genomics/Chemical Biology conference in Gothenburg, Sweden:
· Professor Carsten Schultz from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg is developing new tools that will help us better understand cystic fibrosis. By visualising how cell signaling goes awry, Schultz hopes to come closer to finding a treatment for the incurable disease.
· Ronald Raines from the University of Wisconsin has designed a ‘Trojan horse’ – an enzyme that infiltrates and then attacks the viruses that cause HIV and the lung disease SARS.
· Guri Giaever from the University of Toronto uses yeast to investigate the action mechanism of medicines. Giaver is working together with pharmaceutical companies to explore and eliminate side effects of medicines.
· Henrik Pavia is a University of Gothenburg marine ecologist and an expert in how marine organisms produce and utilise chemical substances. At the conference, Pavia will share the latest knowledge on how these marine bioactive substances can be used to create medicines for humans.
The conference, held at the Chalmers Conference Centre, will also present new findings about environmental toxins and the research currently carried out to identify how molecules in the cell are affected by the toxins.
As a journalist, you may participate in the conference and/or interview the participating scientists.