The Synthetic and Biopolymer Chemistry Core (SBCC) has evolved over three decades to its current state where it provides both biopolymer and small-molecule synthetic services to scientists at City of Hope. These services would not be available from commercial sources.
The lab was originally established in 1974 under the leadership of Dr. Bruce Kaplan to facilitate the synthesis of enzyme substrates and carbohydrates. The laboratory synthesized the starting materials that were utilized in the pioneering work on solid phase DNA synthesis, which led to the bioengineering of synthetic insulin (Humulin) by Dr. Art Riggs and Dr. Keiichi Itakura. This important pharmaceutical is still being used today worldwide by millions of people with diabetes. With the arrival of Dr. Piotr Swiderski in 1989 the laboratory was able to provide synthetic RNA and DNA/RNA chimeras to the City of Hope research community. In 1990 there were only three labs making RNA in the US.
The general capabilities of the core include the design and synthesis of highly specialized biopolymers, including siRNA-aptamers, DNA-peptide hybrid derivatives, and peptides. The core is capable of the synthesis of very complex molecules, as well as the synthesis of small-molecule agonists and antagonists, imaging agents, affinity ligands, nanoparticles, and focused combinatorial libraries. An important new goal of the SBCC is on cancer drug discovery in the area of molecular-targeted therapeutics. These compounds are used for chemical biology, generation of lead compounds for drug discovery, and ultimately optimization of new drugs for preclinical evaluation.
The SBCC is capable of handling the synthesis of all structural classes of small to large organic molecules. A unique strength of the SBCC is in total synthesis of natural products and derivatives. State-of-the-art organic synthesis and the use of modern synthetic methodologies are used for the efficient construction of molecular agents and ligands.
The SBCC provides an affordable means and knowledge to access chemistry technology that cannot be supported by individual labs. The centralized intellectual and technical resources of the SBCC can assist the researcher in designing and conducting the proper experiment, preparing the appropriate samples for analysis, and analyzing them in the most appropriate manner. The core can assist in correctly interpreting results in conjunction with the PI. Core staff scientists also provide essential technical support for the operation and maintenance of highly specialized instruments, such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and mass spectroscopy (MS) equipment.
SBCC General Capabilities:
- Provide expertise, consultations, and experience in the area of chemical synthesis and design of biopolymers.
- Provide broad expertise in the custom synthesis of essentially any organic-based compound with particular emphasis on complex natural products and developing improved synthetic routes.
- Provide scale-up protocols for pure materials for pre-clinical and clinical investigations.
- Facilitate collaborations among molecular biologists, chemists, structural biologists, pharmacologists and clinicians.
- Support small-molecule drug discovery for chemical biology and cancer therapeutics development.
- Provide synthesis of radiolabeled compounds and biologicals, such as imaging agents and antibody conjugates.
- Facilitate sharing of instruments, methodologies, and chemical insights with project investigators throughout City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center.