Frontiers in Chemical Biology Seminar
Biopolymers serve as a foundation of modern therapeutics for the treatment of diseases ranging from cancer to diabetes. The discovery, manufacturing, and delivery of these biomolecules is challenging and limits their rapid translation to the clinic. To address some of these challenges, I describe our findings on the use of cysteine arylation chemistry to synthesize cancer-targeting antibody-drug conjugates. Further, I show that combining chemistry with machine learning leads to the discovery of biopolymers that cross the plasma membrane and blood-brain barrier. Manufacturing our new cell-penetrating variants is hindered by the rate at which we synthesize them, which is far slower than Nature's production pace of seconds. To accelerate the pace of research, we have built tabletop mechanical machines that use human-made chemistry to synthesize peptides in minutes and proteins in hours.