by +Richard Holbrooke – A Scripps Florida scientist has been awarded more than $1.6 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health to develop innovative chemical reactions as tools for the laboratory preparation of rare and structurally diverse natural products with significant therapeutic potential.

“This grant is a continuation of the work we’ve been doing over the past several years,” said Glenn Micalizio, PhD, an associate professor at Scripps Florida who is the project’s principal investigator. “Our investigations will begin to solidify the significance of the more than 15 new chemical reactions that have been discovered in my laboratory. The central focus of this next phase of the program is on understanding and elucidating the unique power of the chemical tools that have emerged from our studies to provide laboratory access to rare and complex natural compounds.”

Micalizio and his colleagues believe that the project has long-term implications for science and medicine. By addressing the limitations and inefficiencies associated with modern chemical science, they hope to establish a firm scientific foundation capable of driving medicinal pursuits for years to come. Compounds targeted in this phase of the project include anticancer, antifungal, analgesic and antibiotic agents whose evaluation as potentially valuable clinical agents is hampered by their low availability from natural sources and the lack of efficient means to accomplish their laboratory synthesis.

“This program, generously supported by the National Institutes of Health, has led to the discovery of a great variety of new chemical reactions (tools for the assembly of molecules) that will undoubtedly have a substantial impact on the manner in which complex molecules can be prepared in the laboratory,” Micalizio said. “The extension of this grant provides needed financial support to continue to develop a chemical science that has had, and will continue to have, a profound impact on the process of drug discovery, broadly defined.”

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