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Research Abstracts Online
January 2010 - March 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Pharmacy
Department of Medicinal Chemistry

PI: Elizabeth A. Amin, Associate Fellow

Targeting Biological Warfare Agents: Understanding Mechanisms and Advancing Countermeasures

The Amin lab focuses on design of therapeutics that target agents used in biological and chemical warfare. They are pursuing three related major research areas: investigating the mechanisms of action of the anthrax toxin lethal factor (LF) and developing small-molecule inhibitors to counteract its effects; designing antidotes to organophosphate nerve agents; and developing new computational methodologies to model metals, especially zinc, in large biological molecules—both agents and antidotes—that are relevant to the defense against terrorism. They are examining a new series of LF inhibitors identified from large-scale in silico and experimental screening; identifying new drug scaffolds targeting LF; and conducting mechanistic studies to evaluate the significance of novel binding space on the LF enzyme. In addition, the Amin lab is developing new schemes to engineer enzyme active sites to rapidly and effectively hydrolyze fast-acting nerve agents including sarin, soman and VX. The Amin lab also works with the Truhlar group (Chemistry) on fine-tuning a new electrostatic embedding method to model zinc centers.

Group Members

Ting-Lan Chiu, Research Associate
Elbek K. Kurbanov, Graduate Student
Aatif Mansoor, MSI Summer Undergraduate Intern
Jingjing Shen, Graduate Student
Anthony Vetter, Undergraduate Student
Richard L. Wood, Research Associate
Xia Zhang, Graduate Student