Sequence-Defined Polymers and Their Structural Evaluation
Technologically, control over primary sequence could lead to the development of synthetic catalysts, scaffolds for molecular encoding and data storage, functional biomaterials, macromolecular drugs and much more. Motivated by this promise, Christopher A. Alabi’s lab, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has developed an efficient methodology for the synthesis of a new class of sequence-defined oligomers called oligoTEAs. This method utilizes reaction orthogonality and a soluble fluorous support to achieve precise sequence-control in the liquid-phase. Benefits of the Alabi methodology include rapid assembly with precise sequence-control, scalable synthesis, and a massive scope of chemically diverse monomers.
Alabi is particularly interested in developing oligoTEAs as antibacterial agents now that antibiotic resistance is one of the most pressing global healthcare problems facing our society. For this reason, the focus of the Alabi lab has been to understand the role of oligoTEA structure and chain dynamics as it relates to their bactericidal activity. In addition to creating antibacterials, the research group is also investigating oligoTEAs for use as membrane disruptive agents, protease resistant linkages, and anticoagulants (heparin pentasaccharide mimetics).
Advances in structure-property relationships enabled by this research will be leveraged towards improving awareness and basic understanding in the general areas of sequence-defined macromolecular assembly. Ultimately, the results from this research activity will inform the broad scientific community about composition, sequence, structural and chain mobility requirements pertinent to the design and assembly of potent antibacterial agents.