Expanding and exploiting the catalytic repertoire of combinatorial nucleic acid selections for medical applications

Synthetic DNA can potentially be used to develop new drugs that target infectious diseases and cancer. I am studying how to create new molecules based on DNA. My research team is examining billions of molecules at a time and selecting synthetic DNA that may have therapeutic properties or act as catalysts. Part of developing new catalysts involves developing building blocks of synthetic DNA with particular properties that regular DNA doesn’t have. For example, we have been able to modify synthetic DNA to enhance its catalytic activity. I am examining whether the catalytic activity can be used to target the RNA sequence involved in the development of cancer. I am also studying a DNA catalyst with the potential to cut viral RNA sequences in HIV. In addition, we are screening molecules to find DNA that can stimulate or inhibit activity on a cell surface or in proteins. In particular, I am examining the proteins involved in cancer. Our goal for this research is to support the development of potent anti-viral and anti-cancer therapies.