Nikko Sambold

Engineering Halogenase Enzymes for Selective Chlorination of Therapeutics

Halogens, a group of atoms with properties not commonly encountered in nature, can introduce unique chemical properties to small molecules that can create important interactions with biomolecules. It is thus reflective that halogens are found in roughly 25% of pharmaceuticals and have been playing a larger role in the development of agrochemicals. Unfortunately, modern synthetic techniques for adding halogens onto these molecules use harsh chemicals and are not selective. This is a problem which halogenase enzymes, enzymes that can add halogens, with their ability to react in mild conditions and have excellent control over both regio- and stereoselectivity, can easily solve. However, such enzymes are very rare and their substrates are limited to naturally occurring substrates. This summer, I hope to study these enzymes in order to gain a deeper understand of how they catalyze this selective chemical reaction. With this information, I will be able to generalize their selectivity to other substrates including pharmaceuticals and their precursors.

Message to Sponsor

I would like to thank the Rose Hills Foundation for funding my research endeavors this summer. With this funding I will be able to devote my full attention to applying the laboratory techniques I have learned to tackling a real-world problem, and therefore make a difference through my research. I will also gain an in-depth experience of the research and development process, which I will be able to apply as I pursue my career in research.
  • Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Experience
  • Mentor: Michelle Chang