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Research


Peptide-based Inclusion Compounds and Co-crystals
Peptide-based host materials are very attractive. Due to the nature of peptide host molecules, such materials are non-toxic, biocompatible and degradable. The diversity of peptide molecules makes it possible to generate numerous host matrices and introduce desired structural features in the host framework.

dipeptide inclusions
Layered inclusions of hydrophobic dipeptides

In our current research, we explore layered structures built by short hydrophobic peptides. These flexible layers are based on a 2D network fortified by strong, charge-assisted H-bonds. Bulky hydrophobic residues on the peptide backbone stick away from the flexible layer generating interlayer cavity space. The space is available for the molecules of guest: reactive species; pharmaceutical ingredients; flavors; signaling compounds; food additives and so on.
The inclusion/co-crystalline materials are useful for the storage/slow release, transport or stabilization of biologically important molecules. These structures also are interesting as simple models of biological elements and functions such as membrane pores or ion channels and their ability to facilitate biotransport.

Single crystals of Leu-Ala*DMSO inclusion and its microcrystals in a gel-like product
Single crystals of Leu-Ala*DMSO inclusion and its microcrystals in a gel-like product

Solid-state Reactivity in Peptide-based Materials
The reactivity of guest molecules included in the cavities of the peptide crystal matrix may be changed in a desired way. The reactions induced in the solid state may undergo totally different pathways due to special and uniform arrangement of the molecules in the crystal. This is also true for the peptide molecules themselves.
Our current research is focused on the incorporation of reactive or potentially reactive molecules in the peptide matrix and studies on their reactivity in this new environment. In particular, aligning double bonds of two adjacent guest molecules predisposes them for [2+2] photodimerization. We also study how the crystal structure affects the resistance of peptide molecules to thermal degradation. Our ultimate goal is to develop solid-state reactions in peptide materials which will produce one stereospecific product in 100% yield and would not require any solvents, separation and purification steps. Such synthetic procedures satisfy the principles of green chemistry.