A European project to design enzymes of biological and medical interest

The Molecular Modeling and Quantum Mechanical Methodology research group of the University of Girona works in a field of great interest as the results will have possible applications in biotechnology and biomedicine.

Chemists from the University of Girona are designing three enzymes of biological and medical interest. Over the course of three years, they will conduct research as part of a European project, Enzyme Design of Medical Interest (MedEnzymeDesign). These researchers belong to the Molecular Modeling and Quantum Mechanical Methodology research group of the Institute of Computational Chemistry of the UdG.

Enzymes are the most efficient, specific and selective catalysts currently known. Despite their advantages, not all synthesis processes have a natural enzyme to catalyze and accelerate reactions. That is why the design of new enzymes for processes in which there is no biocatalyst represents an enormous challenge for protein engineering and a way to understand how they work. In addition, the ability to design specific activity enzymes is of great interest due to possible applications in biotechnology, biomedicine and industry.

Combating diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases
The project aims to design an enzyme to reduce the formation of products called AGE, associated mainly with diabetes; an enzyme with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase activity (G6PD); and an enzyme with superoxide dismutase activity, to avoid oxidative stress produced in the majority of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.

Sílvia Osuna, currently completing a research stay at the University of California, is the researcher in charge of this project, which she is developing as part of a post-doc. All the designs will be created according to the research method developed by professors K. N. Houk (University of California) and David Baker (University of Washington). In addition to Doctor Houk, doctors Miquel Solà and Marcel Swart (University of Girona) are also participating in the project.

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Proyecto financiado por el Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte en el marco del Programa Campus de Excelencia Internacional

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