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Millions to develop multi-functional drugs

Professor Kurt V. Gothelf has received DKK 60 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Challenge Programme to establish the Center for Multifunctional Biomolecular Drug Design (CEMBID) at the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO) at Aarhus University.

2018.01.12 | Christina Troelsen

[Translate to English:] Professor Kurt V. Gothelf, iNANO and Department of Chemistry, will head the new Center for Multifunctional Biomolecular Drug Design (CEMBID). (Foto: Lars Svankjær).

Most drugs used today only have one mechanism of action, and it is both difficult and expensive to manufacture drugs with several function. The researchers behind the Center for Multifunctional Biomolecular Drug Design (CEMBID) therefore want to find new ways of conjugating drugs in order to achieve multiple mechanisms of action.

Researchers at the centre will develop a number of new methods to chemically bind medically relevant biological molecules. Nucleic acids such as DNA that contain all the information necessary to create and maintain life can be coded in the laboratory to conjugate themselves into very well-defined microscopic 2D or 3D structures. When these nucleic acid structures are attached to medically relevant proteins and small molecules, it is possible to link both existing and new drugs simply and efficiently to create multifunctional drugs. Among other things, these new drugs could be developed to be able to cross the body's barriers, influence the immune system in a specific direction, bind to the cells that require treatment, and then release the medicine to them. 

The interdisciplinary team of researchers at CEMBID will be working within the areas of chemistry, molecular biology, pharmacology and medicine, and in close collaboration they will be manufacturing and testing these new and complex molecules. The aim is to pave the way for new types of drugs that are more effective, have fewer side effects, and can be adapted to the individual patient.

Professor Kurt V. Gothelf will head the new centre. Combined with the competences of the other partners, his background within organic chemistry, bioconjugation and DNA nanotechnology means there are promising prospects to develop multifunctional drugs. Professor Jørgen Kjems, and Associate Professor Ken Howard, two colleagues from iNANO, will help lead the centre. Jørgen Kjems has extensive expertise within the field of nucleic-acid nanotechnology and drug delivery, while Associate Professor Ken Howard is an expert within drug delivery and pharmacokinetics. Finally, the centre also involves Professor Tony LaHoutte from Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, who through his extensive experience in clinical studies of bioconjugates will make a crucial contribution in testing the new conjugated drugs.

For more information, please contact:

Professor Kurt V. Gothelf
iNANO and Department of Chemistry
Aarhus University
Tel: +45 60202725

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