Dr. David Perrin

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 This week we profile a recent publication in Chemical Science from the laboratory
of Dr. David Perrin
at the University of British Columbia.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

My lab is a bioorganic lab that applies synthetic chemistry to interesting health-related and translational applications at the interface of chemistry and biology.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

For the past 35 years, scientists have been seeking a candidate therapeutic “smart-drug” that can cleave a specific RNA sequence under cellular conditions.  In past riboyzmes and DNAyzmes had offered promise for this but have not lived up to this promise.  In our case, we’ve developed a new DNA-based catalyst that can cleave RNA without metal ions where the catalytic “power” comes from synthetic appendages. We looked to target the HIV late promoter as a test case for developing an antiviral DNAzyme but the possibilities for other viruses as well as targeting cancer genes exist.

What are the next steps for this research?

Next steps would be to get funding to scale up the production of this catalyst and investigate its activity in cells and ultimately in test animals. To do this type of translation, we hope to get more funding from the CIHR, which, despite several applications has not renewed the funding for this work.  Alternatively, we may consider seeking a partner in the USA since Canada has no biotechnology companies with the capacity or interest in such applications. Finally we might start our own company on this.

This research was funded by:

NSERC and the CIHR

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