Central to the projects is the development of small heterocyclic molecules with the aim to interfere with and study complex biological systems. Currently the main focus is on the development of compounds that selectively can bind and satbilize G-quadruplex DNA structures. The compounds are designed through structure-based techniques or screening-based strategies and are further optimized by organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, computational design, and biophysical chemistry. Most projects are interdisciplinary and collaborations with other resaearch groups is common.
The double stranded helix is the most well known secondary DNA structure but there are several additional types of DNA structures that also carry vital functions. The G-quadruplex (or G4) DNA structures is one such example. G4 structures are ubiquitous in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Their biological roles have over the last years started to be uncovered with links to various aspects of genome maintenance and regulation but also to human diseases (such as cancer). There are over 700,000 G-quadruplex motifs in the human genome that potentially can form G-quadruplexes. Details of which sequences in the human genome that form a G-quadruplex structure, when this happens, and also why this happens is not yet fully clear. The overall goal with the research performed in the lab is to design and synthesize compounds that selectively target certain, or even individual, G-quadruplexes to study their biological roles and investigate their potential as therapeutics.