LIFT funding for HIMS researchers

Research projects in peptide synthesis and bio-inspired supramolecular catalysis

25 August 2015

Professors Jan van Maarseveen and Joost Reek of the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) have both received funding through the LIFT programme of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO. In two public-private partnership projects a PhD student and a postdoc researcher will be employed.

The LIFT programme (an abbreviation of 'Launchpad for Innovative Future Technology') is part of the Fund New Chemical Innovations (Fund NCI), intended for public-private partnership in chemistry. LIFT enables a quick start for projects in which research questions of one or more industrial partners are addressed in cooperation with one or more knowledge institutions.

Beading a peptide chainlet through catalysis

Prof Jan van Maarseveen

Professor Jan van Maarseveen. Photo by Dirk Gillessen.

Jan van Maarseveen, professor of Bio-inspired Organic Synthesis, will cooperate with EnzyPep (Geleen) to develop new catalytic methodology for the coupling of peptide segments. Peptides are small and important proteins, some of which are used as anti-cancer medicines. In their synthesis the exact control of the molecular spatial arrangement is of utmost importance.  

Being proteins, peptides are built from amino acids. For the process of beading a chain of amino acids currently coupling reagents are used of which large quantities are required resulting in lots of chemical waste. This LIFT project will improve the synthesis of peptides on an industrial scale. Besides facilitating drug research this proposal will also contribute to a a more sustainable and economical manufacturing of medicines.

LIFT project Jan van Maarseveen

Together we are strong!

Joost Reek, photo by Jan Willem Steenmeijer

Professor Joost Reek. Photo by Jan Willem Steenmeijer.

In the LIFT project of Joost Reek, professor of Supramolecular Catalysis, new nature-inspired strategies will be developed to design and synthesize metal-based catalysts, with improved activities and selectivities as compared to traditional homogeneous catalysts. The resulting catalytic toolbox will enable the development of new and clean processes in cooperation with the UvA spinoff company InCatT. These processes will be relevant to the fine chemicals, fragrances, flavours and pharmaceuticals industries.

The 'together we are strong' approach refers not only to the cooperation between the university and InCatT, but also to the research itself. The catalytic performance of enzymes (the catalysts of Nature) depends on the cooperation of various functional groups. This is rather different from the way metal-complexes are traditionally used as catalysts. Within enzymes a binding-site close to the reative center helps to control the catalytic properties.

LIFT project Joost Reek

Published by  HIMS