Downsizing proteins to equipotent small molecules that activate cells (2013–2015)
A major challenge in chemistry and biochemistry is to recreate the functions of proteins in small molecules. This basic research project will develop promising approaches for downsizing proteins to small bioactive molecules that have the same potent and specific functions as proteins, but are much cheaper to manufacture, more chemically stable, easier to store, less flexible in water, and more membrane permeable. The generality and limitations of the methods will be tested by application to four functionally different protein hormones that activate cells. Fully functional small molecule 'protein surrogates' will be more useful than proteins for a myriad of chemical, biological and industrial applications with strong commercial potential.