Chemical probes (e.g. small molecules, pharmacological modulators) have a tremendous impact on human health. Chemical probes provide a unique opportunity to study the relevance and drugability of a protein as a potential drug target and serve a starting point for drug discovery. For most proteins of the drugable human genome no small molecules have been reported that can selectively modulate the function of the drug target in an acute and dynamic manner.
My lab focuses on the design, synthesis and application of chemical probes to control and visualize protein activity in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. We combine organic synthesis and medicinal chemistry with innovative chemical biology techniques to identify the best chemical probes.
A key technology in the lab is chemical proteomics in which we make use of photoreactive and activity-based probes that can be used for target identification and to determine the activity and selectivity profile of the drug candidates in cells and animal models. In addition, we use computational chemistry methods based on artificial intelligence to analyze and predict the biological activity of chemical probes. Within Oncode we aim to discover novel chemical probes for innovative cancer drug targets and optimize them towards drug candidates.