SFB 1032: Nanoagents for Spatiotemporal Control of Molecular and Cellular Reactions

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SFB1032 Special Seminar

Dr. Oliver Thorn-Seshold, Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy, LMU Munich

12.07.2016 at 12:15 

Title: Photoswitchable reagents for high-spatiotemporal-precision control of living cells and organisms: “Beyond the distribution limit”

Venue: LMU Faculty of Physics, Altbau Physik, Kleiner Physikhörsaal (N020)

Host: Prof. Joachim Rädler (B01)



Biology and medicine in the latter 20th Century benefited enormously from the pharmacological development of protein-specific inhibitors, used for elucidation of protein function and disfunction, or in the therapy of diseases. However, some proteins have a multitude of disparate functions: simultaneously but in different cells or tissues, or in the same cells but at different times / in response to specific stimuli. Such proteins include many of the most important cellular components: but frustratingly, they resist classical pharmacological analysis and therapy.

Photopharmacology is a neologism describing the nascent field of reversibly light-modulatable reagents for controlling biological function. Relying on the high spatiotemporal precision of standard light delivery techniques, photopharmaceuticals can break the “distribution limit” that restricts the spatial and temporal specificity of classical pharmaceuticals. Their potential is only recently being explored; but by analogy to methods breakthroughs such as optogenetics (vs. genetics), or superresolution (vs. diffraction-limited) microscopy, we await exciting times ahead.

As a case study, we will discuss our recent work in the photopharmacology of the microtubule cytoskeleton: a challenging proof of principle that illustrates some of the challenges and opportunities for photopharmaceutical development and biological use. Highlights include single-cell-specific control over embryonic development; and the demonstration of light-guided tissue-specific antimitotic activity in live mouse – towards tumour-specific chemotherapy without systemic mechanistic side-effects.