bioinorganic chemistry

Biospectroscopy, medicinal inorganic chemistry, and molecular and cell biology will be used to understand the mode of action of existing drugs, the design of new drugs and to learn more about normal physiological and disease processes at a molecular and cellular level.  Projects will centre on metal-based anti-cancer and anti-diabetic drugs, the active sites of heme proteins, or the use of biospectroscopy in disease diagnosis.

Project 1

Biochemistry of Cr, Mo and V anti-diabetic drugs and supplements
We have amassed evidence to implicate potentially carcinogenic Cr(VI/V) complexes as the active forms of Cr dietary supplements that are widely consumed for fat reduction and the treatment and prevention of diabetes. We are using similar techniques to those used in the Cr studies to unravel the biochemistry of V and Mo supplements that are also anti-diabetics. The studies are aimed at producing safer and more efficacious treatments for the prevention and treatment of diabetes. These projects will include studies of the interactions of the complexes with biomolecules and cells using various spectroscopic techniques, including microprobes (X-ray, Raman, FTIR and fluorescence).

Project 2

Anti-cancer drugs
The anti-cancer properties of Ru complexes will be studied, since Ru complexes are one of few classes that have strong anti-metastatic activities.  Investigations will involve studies on the ability of the Ru complexes to bind to blood proteins, extracellular matrices, the cell surface, and intracellular targets in order to bring about their activities.  Separate studies on Ga, V (with Dr. A. Levina) and Rh anti-cancer drugs (with Drs. R. Baker and A. Levina) have also been shown considerable promise.  A project focused on any one of these classes could include a combination of synthetic chemistry, biospectroscopy, and biochemical and cell biology assays.

Project 3

Heme proteins
Heme proteins have diverse biological roles and NO-heme adducts have been implicated in many of these roles.  This project involves studies into the Raman and X-ray absorption spectroscopies of heme proteins in order to understand features of their chemistry, structures, and functions.  Studies will involve investigations of isolated proteins that use the binding of NO or other small molecules in signal processes, the immune system, and/or for vasodilation, or the role of such proteins in cardiovascular disease.  Research into the structures of intracellular heme proteins within cells is also possible.

Project 4

Vibrational spectroscopic studies for studies on disease processes and diagnosis
Projects will involve the use of IR and Raman techniques to diagnose various diseases and to understand disease progression at the biochemical level.  The techniques rely on the ability of vibrational spectroscopic techniques to differentiate changes in amounts and distributions of biochemicals.  Research could concentrate on cancer, malaria, or cardiovascular disease, in collaboration with colleagues in a number of hospitals and medical institutes.


For further information, please contact:

Professor Peter Lay

Room 307

School of Chemistry

Eastern Avenue

University of Sydney NSW 2006

Phone: +61 2 9351 4269