What we do
The goal of the Physical Biochemistry Unit is to unravel the physical principles that govern lipid-peptide interactions, with implications in viral fusion (HIV and Dengue virus are of particular interest), analgesia, antimicrobials and transfection agents. Peptide-lipid biomembranes interactions are ubiquitous in the living world and a fertile ground for drug discovery and development. At the UBqF we are interest not only in drug targets and drug discovery itself, but also in the molecular-level mechanism of action of drugs that are known for their therapeutic efficacy and safety. More recently, we are focused on the central nervous system and translocation of the blood-brain barrier.
Our goal is to solve problems related to the structure of molecular systems in biological membranes. Many antibiotics, such as peptides or anti-fungi polyenes, act at the cell membranes level. We quantify the partition extent into the membrane, molecular in-depth location, orientation and whether molecules are clustering and/or segregated in lipidic rafts. Kyotorphin (analgesic di-peptide), Filipin (polyene antibiotic), Pep-1 (a vector peptide for macromolecular translocation across the membrane), an antimicrobial peptide related to indolocidin, and HIV-1 fusion inhibitor peptides are currently under study in our lab.
Most of the research being carried out at the physical biochemistry unit is related to the biophysics of membrane-active peptides, mainly:
All aspects of the biochemistry, biophysics and clinical correlations of these molecules are important to us.
Miguel A. R. B. Castanho - Homepage