Prof. Igor V. Komarov has been awarded by a Georg Forster Research Prize

Prof. Igor V. Komarov (pictured), head of supramolecular chemistry chair of Institute of High Technologies, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, has been awarded by a Georg Forster Research Prize this year. The award is granted by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in recognition of a researcher's entire achievements to date to academics of all disciplines whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and beyond and who are expected to continue developing research-based solutions to the specific challenges facing transition and developing countries. Igor V. Komarov’s nomination was made by German scientists - chemists and biologists from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Research group of Prof. Komarov collaborates with Karlsruhe Institute of Technology for more than 10 years. The main direction of the collaborative work is study of the structure and mechanism of biological action of natural peptides – antimicrobial, cell-penetrating, fusogenic. The study is based on synthesis of the peptide analogues containing unnatural fluorine-substituted amino acid residues (“labels”) in place of natural ones. Information about the structure and behavior of the peptides can then be obtained by 19F-NMR. In many cases the structural information about the peptides cannot be obtained currently by other methods, for example, for peptides in biological membranes (see fig. 1). 
Fig. 1. Cell-penetrating peptide SAP in biological membrane. The structure and alignment of the peptide was studied by means of 19F-NMR of the fluorine-“labeled” analogues.
Recently, Igor V. Komarov’s research group, also in collaboration with German colleagues (Prof. Anne S. Ulrich’s group from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), developed photoswitchable peptides, the biological activity of which can be reversibly switched “on” and “off” by light of different wavelengths. In other words, such peptides can be activated as drugs only where and when they are required, by the irradiation with light of the appropriate wavelength. After achieving the desired therapeutic effect, the peptides can be deactivated by light of other wavelength, in order to decrease the damaging impact of the drug on the patients and environment. The principle was demonstrated by synthesis of photoswitchable antibiotics.
The illustration (fig. 2) shows a Petri dish where bacteria S. xylosus were treated with such a peptide in the non-nactive photoform, and afterwards part of the peptide was activated as antibiotic by visible light (within the circle). The bacteria colonies grew only outside the irradiation area, but died within the circle which is therefore transparent (the University emblem is visible through the dish). Thus, the resulting pattern of live versus dead bacteria shows a distinct boundary between the active and inactive forms of the peptidomimetic (insert, formulae of both photoform of the peptide are shown in the foreground).
The finding opens the ways to design novel treatment strategies for diseases that is of high interest to medicine. The light beams can be used in these strategies to strictly control the biological activity of the photoswichable therapeutic agents on the molecular level, with the ultimate goal to improve their therapeutic index.
The research was published in a high-impact Journal (Angewandte Chemie DOI: 10.1002/anie.201310019, published online 19.02.2014) as a “Very Important Paper”.
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Дизайн: Інститут високих технологій
Ivan Ivanov