Nov. 19, 2019 — Organosulfur compounds are widely present in our bodies and the natural environment. They are found in onions, shallots and even cauliflower. Medical research finds that when consumed, they can protect against cancer, heart disease and even diabetes. There is also evidence of these compounds’ antiviral and antibacterial uses. About a quarter of all pharmaceutical drugs currently use OSCs.
However, the use of sulfur atoms in the manufacturing of drugs is a double-edged sword. Sulfur is tricky to introduce into a molecule because currently available chemical tools do not allow researchers to introduce sulfur into molecules with high levels of precision. This shortcoming impacts scientists’ ability to make molecules that can one day become medicines, as well as the eventual efficacy of future drugs that rely on a particular geometry of synthetic sulfur molecules. UTSA has launched research that aims to solve this roadblock to expedite new drug development.
“Our end goal is to build a broad range of synthetic sulfur-containing molecules that will become readily accessible for organic synthesis and drug discovery applications,” says Associate Professor Oleg Larionov, principal investigator of this project at the UTSA Department of Chemistry. “We want to contribute to the improvement of human healthcare through more efficient syntheses of small molecule biological probes and therapeutic agents.”
—OLEG LARIONOV, UTSA Associate Professor and Principal Investigator
Sulfur is the most common atom in small molecule medicines after oxygen and nitrogen, and a quarter of the most prescribed small molecule drugs are organosulfur compounds. At the functional group level, more than 37% of all FDA-approved organosulfur drugs contain the sulfonyl group, emphasizing the importance of this particular group in drug design.
There are challenges to the current synthetic methods that are used to make organosulfur compounds, For example, chemists often struggle to synthesize organosulfur compounds with a specific structural geometry. Usually, existing syntheses result in mixtures of products of different chemo-, regio- and stereo- isomers. Compounds with different chemo-, regio- and stereo- structures are made by the same types and numbers of atoms, but assembled in different ways.
Professor Larionov intends to develop methods to improve the outcome of synthesizing these sulfur-containing products with specific chemo-, regio- and stereoselectivity. The UTSA group will use more than $1 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health to improve the development of these therapeutic agents.
UTSA researchers plan to use intermediate oxidation states of organosulfur reagents, in particular sulfinates, to solve the industry’s limitations of current methods including the lack of efficient methods to synthesize sulfinates directly from abundant precursors.
“We want to streamline synthetic approaches and solve long-standing problems in medicinal chemistry,” says Larionov. “Our work and discoveries are the foundation for future medicinal chemistry research.”
Larionov’s research group focuses on complex molecule synthesis with a special focus on compounds targeting cancer. It’s expected that this research will yield results in four years. Figuring out how to improve the use of sulfur in drug development also has implications beyond medicine. Improving the use of OSCs can advance functional materials such as photovoltaics, organic electronics, carbon materials, nanotechnology, liquid crystals, magnetic materials, surfaces and interfaces, and biomaterials.
UTSA has been recognized by Nature Index as one of the leading universities globally for its output of research in the natural sciences, including being named one of the Top 25 Rising Young Universities. Among the Top 50 Young Universities in Chemistry, UTSA’s program is ranked first in the United States and 18th in the world.
Learn more about the Larionov Lab at UTSA.
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Chemistry.
Celebrate UTSA’s 50th Anniversary and share social media posts about the 50th using the hashtag #UTSA50.
UTSA invites you to participate in our community altar by RSVP to this event. You can also use this link to learn more about Día de Los Muertos:https://anendlessconnection.weebly.com/the-project.html.Student Union Window Lounge, Main Campus
October 28th celebrates National Immigrants Day. On this day, we gather to explore the diverse heritage of our nation’s social fabric. We dedicate this day to understanding how our nation was founded and built by immigrants. Our goal is for the UTSA family to recognize and celebrate how all immigrants, regardless of their citizenship status, contribute to our community through their resiliency and ingenuity.Multicultural Student Lounge, HSU 2.207, Main Campus
The COLFA Advanced Career Pathways Workshops are focused on connecting your education with your career aspirations and exploring your pathways to reach your goal.Mesquite Room, Student Union, 2.01.24, Main Campus
The Westside Community Center will be creating an altar or "ofrenda" as many do within San Antonio and the Westside for "Dia de los Muertos." If you would like to participate, we invite you to send in a photo of a loved one that will be placed in this space. You are welcome to join us on October 28th at 3:00 pm to set up the space and come see us at the Westside Community Center.UTSA Westside Community Center, 1310 Guadalupe St., San Antonio, TX 78207
Blueprints For Pangaea is hosting its first on-campus inventory event of the semester! Join us for a Halloween-themed afternoon where we'll inventory medical supplies while enjoying Halloween movies. By the end of the event, you will have positively impacted the health of hundreds of individuals. We require at least one hour of attendance and come dressed up because the best costumes will earn awards.Flawn Sciences Building, 3.02.02, Main Campus
Chris Villanueva and other jazz faculty will perform standards in this concert. More details to come. The Fall 2021 concert schedule is subject to change. Please continue to monitor our website and social media for updates. This concert will be live-streamed via the UTSA Music Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/UTSAMusic When:UTSA Recital Hall, Main Campus
UTSA Sustainability will have three courses of varying difficulty to accommodate different ages and abilities. There will a one mile walk on generally level surface to introduce you to the student run community garden, a longer walk with stairs and topo changes, and a five mile bike ride to introduce you to the Leon Greenway.Tito Bradshaw Bicycle Repair Shop Ximenes Ave, Main Campus
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