Drug Discovery Seminar - Roland Kersten, PhD
Date: Friday, October 9
Drug Discovery Seminar
Roland Kersten, PhD
Gene-guided discovery and diversification of cyclic peptides in plants
For millennia, humans have explored the plant kingdom for ways to ease pain, treat injuries, and cure diseases. Ancient herbal medicines derived from botanical exploration are based on the activity of small chemicals called plant natural products, many of which have been developed in the last two centuries into therapeutic drugs to cure cancer and infectious diseases, and ameliorate pain. The discovery and development of modern drugs from plant natural products has three major bottlenecks: rediscovery of known chemistry, scaled production of lead structures in a sustainable, source-plant-independent fashion, and diversification of lead structures for bioactivity optimization. Here, I’ll showcase how the combination of mass spectrometry-based metabolomics and plant genomics enables discovery of cyclic peptide chemistry with anticancer activity from diverse plants and how synthetic biology can enable biosynthesis and diversification of new plant peptides in tobacco.