About the Jones Group
The Jones Research Group has been engaged in the chemical synthesis of a number target molecules designed to interact with specific cellular macromolecules. One library of agents are photodynamic therapy [PDT] candidates, where an inactive chromophore produces cytotoxic diradicals upon photoactivation. We applied this principle to the production of steroid-chromophore conjugates, and are investigating their application against growth of hormone responsive breast cancer cells. Another category of agents are enzymatically activated image contrast agents. By preparing chromophores tagged with a substrate for the prostate specific antigen [PSA], release of free fluorophore can be used to image the prostatic microenvironment - important to help guide chemo and radiotherapy. In collaboration with a group at the Beth Israel Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Center, we are now conducting in vitro evaluation of our second generation candidate compounds.
A third area of work has led to identification of small molecule libraries that interact selectively with DNA and RNA bulges. These targets are known to play a crucial role in the progression of several neurodegenerative disorders. Despite the obvious ramifications, our agents are the first synthetic agents to be produced that target these bulges, and we are aggressively pursuing many applications. The project is a collaboration between our group and that of Irving Goldberg at Harvard Medical School. The initial findings, published in Chemistry & Biology, attracted a great deal of attention, resulting in an editorial in the same Journal and a feature in Chemical & Engineering News.