Are there better alternatives to current opioids that can treat pain with fewer side effects? How can studying the structure of cyclic peptides advance our knowledge of opioids and pain treatment?
R大学的学生研究员, led by 化学 教授 Michael Ferracane aim to answer these questions through an ongoing study. More than a dozen students have worked with Ferracane over the past seven years on collecting preliminary data and studying the structure, 属性, and opioid 活动 of a series of related cyclic peptides, which are small segments of amino acids connected together into a cyclic structure.
Ferracane被授予a 国家科学基金会 将近250美元的补助金,000 to aid in the research for the next two years and provide financial support for chemicals, 供应, 旅行, 还有学生津贴. It also helped fund new computer software that enables easier, 更快地解释数据和建立多肽模型, 冷冻干燥机, a machine that removes water and solvents from samples (a process that works the same as freeze driers to make astronaut ice cream and dried fruit). Other chemistry students also have access to the resources to gain first-hand experience working with research-grade equipment.
Three first-generation students – Alejandra Cordova ’24, Li Almazo Garcia, 24岁， and 丹尼尔 Plata ’24 – worked on the project through the Summer Science 研究 Program, and they are continuing their research during the academic year through their senior capstone projects.
丹尼尔, who is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology with a minor in psychology, explained the research: “Our research focuses on the synthesis and characterization of opioid cyclic tetrapeptides, which have been shown to treat pain with reduced side effects in mouse models. 通过固-合成了新型环四肽 溶液相合成. 一旦线性前体被合成, we run a sample of it on two different instruments to check for the presence of the peptide and the purity of our product. From there we cyclize our peptide, purify it and after doing so, we have our final product.”
Ferracane notes that all the sample preparation and data collection is being done by the students. “尽我所能, 我试图让学生在设计上独立, 执行, 解读他们的实验,费拉康说. “That’s one of the most rewarding parts about doing science, and I want them (the students) to have that experience whenever possible. There’s something gratifying about seeing something through from beginning to end.”
一旦样本被收集和分析, the team will send the peptides off for testing at the National Institute of Mental Health, 佛罗里达大学, 以及加州大学洛杉矶分校. The team hopes to convey their findings through peer-reviewed research articles and presentations at local and national conferences. 今年夏天, Alejandra, 丹尼尔, and Li attended the American Peptide Symposium in Scottsdale, 亚利桑那州展示了他们研究的海报. They also heard presentations from leaders in the peptide field and spoke to researchers from around the world.
亚历杭德拉还获得了 ACS Division of Organic 化学 Summer Undergraduate 研究 Fund 这帮助她支付了夏季研究的费用. 今年秋天，她去了 基因泰克 in San Francisco to present her research to her peers and representatives from the industry. 选择相信, “participating in research does not only give me valuable experience but also will help me when applying for graduate schools, since a lot of schools look for students with research experience.”
Li wants to pursue a dual MD-PhD degree focusing on medicinal chemistry after she graduates. She believes this research has helped her gain a better understanding of medicinal chemistry and recognize a desire to continue a career in research. 作为第一代学生, Li believes “I feel more committed because I don’t have people I could turn to at home regarding university. So, it’s taught me to put myself out there and ask my professors, 的理解, 和朋友的帮助.”
丹尼尔, 谁想攻读医学博士, said “I chose Redlands because I wanted to attend a smaller school with a small student population; I wanted professors to know me and to not think of me as just another face in the crowd. 班级规模更小, it is much easier to have professors know your strengths and weaknesses in the classroom and can help work with you to succeed.”
Ferracane相信, “在雷德兰兹, students that work directly with faculty receive significant attention from someone who is a disciplinary expert and is invested in their education and development. There’s a lot more to being a chemist than mixing chemicals together, and we have the knowledge and passion to help students develop the necessary skills and realize their potential. There are few environments that offer anything similar.”
To learn more about the 学生科学研究 program, click 这个链接.