NYU Chemists Discover Twisted Molecules That Pick Their Targets


New York University chemists have discovered how to make molecules with a twist-the molecules fold in to twisted helical shapes that can accelerate selected chemical reactions. The research, reported in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), could yield valuable methods for making pharmaceuticals and other chemicals that require precise assembly of complex structures.

New York University chemists have discovered how to make molecules with a twist-the molecules fold in to twisted helical shapes that can accelerate selected chemical reactions. The research, reported in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), could yield valuable methods for making pharmaceuticals and other chemicals that require precise assembly of complex structures.

Photo Caption: A folded molecule is a new type of catalyst, and can selectively speed chemical reactions. A chain-like molecule (grey, lower right) was designed to fold in a helical pattern, mimicking the folding of peptides found in nature. This arrangement allows it to selectively interact with a pair of mirror-image chemical compounds (in green). The trajectory depicts how the folded molecule interacts with only one member of the pair, and selectively accelerates its conversion to a new chemical form.

The NYU team performs studies in “biomimetic chemistry.” This research pursues synthetic molecules with structures and functions resembling molecules found in nature. Many biological molecules, such as proteins and DNA, can fold themselves into ordered helices and bundles. Within the past decade, s 500

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