Our research is focused on using organic synthesis and enzymes coupled to state-of-the-art biophysical techniques such as fluorescence, NMR, mass spectrometry, and mass cytometry to creatively assemble new tools for studying biology.
1) Biofilm formation and modulation
Biofilms account for over 80% of human bacterial infections. Until recently the molecular details of biofilm formation have been limited. We are engaged in the study of key enzymes in the biofilm forming process. These studies involve the synthesis of oligosaccharide substrates of the enzymes crucial to biofilm formation. These compounds allow a detailed kinetic analysis of the enzymes mechanism and the development of inhibitors to biofilm formation. In the future we aim to develop a new class of antibiotics which target biofilm formation.
2) Development of probes for mass cytometry
The invention of mass cytometry (MC) by the Canadian company DVS Sciences (now Fluidigm) has transformative potential in the areas of cell-based research and clinical assays. MC overcomes many of the difficulties with flow cytometry, allowing for quantitative, highly multiplexed cytometric assays to be carried out using reagents tagged with heavy isotopes (Da >~100). These MC experiments have revealed novel cellular maturation pathways and interesting drug response profiles using antibodies tagged with Ln3+isotopes. The new MC probes we are developing will enable unprecedented biochemistry to explore the dynamics of cellular metabolism in vivo that, in the long term, will inform disease treatments.