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Polish-Portuguese research will lead to better understanding of chiral medicine

Polish-Portuguese research will lead to better understanding of chiral medicine

The JU Chiroptical Spectroscopy Group led by Prof. Agnieszka Kaczor, together with Prof. Igor Reva and his collaborators at the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Coimbra, have received funding to implement a bilateral Polish-Portuguese project dedicated to the organisation, chiral recognition and chiral selection in drug-liposome systems studied using chiroptical spectroscopy and molecular modeling.


Chirality, a geometric property which dictates that the object and its mirror image are non-superimposable, is one of the fundamental properties of our world. Different enantiomers (stereoisomers that are mirror images of each other) of the same chiral drug usually exhibit differences in absorption and bioavailability, distribution and clearance, potency, and toxicology. For some chiral drugs, their mechanism of action is based on interactions with the cell membrane and often active compounds occur there as chiral aggregates.

Chiroptical spectroscopies are methods dedicated to study chiral compounds. New vibrational chiroptical methods, collectively referred as Vibrational Optical Activity, are potent tools for studying selectively chiral biomolecules with high structural sensitivity, particularly if supported by molecular modeling (molecular dynamics and quantum-chemical calculations) that give insight into the molecular structure and interactions of studied molecules.

The Polish-Portuguese project plans to use the approach combining these vibrational chiroptical methods (vibrational circular dichroism and optical Raman activity) with molecular modeling to study chiral biomolecules (particularly membrane interacting drugs) in model membranes (liposomes).

The project combines the experience of the Polish scientists in chiroptical spectroscopy with skills of the Portuguese scientists in molecular modeling as well as in liposome preparation. The joint expertise of two groups will be used to understand how chiral drugs organise in the membrane and interact with its environment. Chiral biomolecules will be embedded in (i) non-chiral liposomes (to study organisation in the membrane and its impact on bioavailability), and in (ii) chiral liposomes working as selectors for racemic chiral drugs. Scientists hope that their approach will shed more light on the mechanism of action of investigated chiral drugs.

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