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Expanding the Chemistry and ‘Folding Rules’ of Peptidomimetics

The NC State Belltower at dusk and night. Photo by Marc Hall

NC State chemist Caroline Proulx has received a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on ‘New Strategies for Peptide Mimicry’ to investigate the development of new broadly applicable tools for peptide mimicry. Peptides are an important class of compounds that modulate various biological responses, including as hormones, neurotransmitters, and antimicrobials. However, to develop peptide-based therapeutics, strategies are needed to increase their stability while retaining or improving their bioactivity.

Caroline Proulx, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry
Caroline Proulx
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry

Proulx’s project focuses on developing new methods for late-stage peptide functionalizations and developing new strategies for synthesizing and controlling the conformation of acyclic, highly functionalized peptidomimetics. This includes (1) the study of azapeptide folding and the development of new strategies for their chemoselective functionalization and rigidification and (2) the discovery and application of new conformationally-constrained N-substituted glycine peptoid monomers. These novel methods are then applied to the synthesis of bioactive peptide analogs.

The grant was made as part of the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program of the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The program aims to provide researchers with greater stability and flexibility in an effort to enhance scientific productivity and the chances for significant breakthroughs.

Proulx will lead a team of investigators on the project composed of graduate students, postdocs, and undergraduate researchers from the Proux Lab.