We are firm believers on
the critical value of first level research and
advanced education as means to promote
the socio-economical, technological, and
cultural progress of our society
We strive to provide an appropriate environment in which to carry out creative and competitive research at the frontier of knowledge, and to promote the formation of people that will lead relevant academic and industrial projects.
In recent years we have also increased our interest in applying for patents and exploring technological applications for our discoveries.
Since the year 2000 we have published many high level papers in journals such as Nature Communications, Angewandte Chemie, J. Am. Chem. Soc. and Chem. Sci., and have presented a number of patent applications.
Please, for updated information check the publications section.
We are synthetic chemists, and as such, we can imagine and make molecules.
If such molecules are appropriately designed so that they can probe or alter specific biological processes, we might be in the condition of contributing to Molecular Biology and Medicine from a different perspective of more Biology-focused groups.
Our interest has mainly centered upon the study of supramolecular chemistry of DNA-protein interactions. On the basis of the available structural information on the interaction of different families of transcription factors with dsDNA, we aimed at developing small, synthetic versions that could somewhat mimic DNA binding properties of such natural counterparts.
For instance we have recently developed several strategies that allow to control the DNA interaction of synthetic models or transcriptions factors. Some of these strategies involve either light-promoted switch-on activations as shown below (left) or stimuli-responsive site-selective interactions (right).
The availability of smart molecules capable of affecting specific processes involved in such genetic expression in a predictable and programmable manner might lead to a better understanding of molecular details of this process as well as provide the basis for the discovery of novel medicines.
More recently, we have also started studies on the design of stimuli-responsive cellular probes as shown below (left), as well as on the design and preparation of specific and sensitive sensors of important biomolecules as RNA (right).
Future research in this program will be mainly focused towards the development of new biosupramolecular assembly strategies, reagents for the selective modification of biopolymers and the preparation of highly sensitive and specific biomolecular sensors. This work is being co-supervised by Profs. J. L. Mascareñas and E. Vázquez Sentís.
Modern organic synthesis should be something more than getting to the target at any cost, hence part of our efforts is focused on the development of innovative and creative methods and strategies for transforming simple and readily accessible substances into architecturally-complex, target-relevant products.
The development of these methods, which might eventually provide a faster access to biologically and clinically relevant and complex polycyclic products such as those shown below, should also take into account the principles of minimal waste and maximum atom economy.
Therefore, relying on the wonderful coordination and activation characteristics of metals, we aim to invent and develop rapid approaches to this type of products using as key constructive step a metal-catalyzed cycloaddition. Some of the most relevant methodologies developed in the group are shown in the figures below.
The methods include palladium-, platinum-, ruthenium-, nickel- and gold-catalyzed cycloadditions, and allow to build very rapidly highly relevant polycyclic systems containing four, five, six, or even higher (seven to nine) membered rings.
The development of enantioselective variants of the processes based on the use of new chiral transition metal catalysts is also a very strong part of our research.
For instance, the following figure shows the first efficient mononuclear chiral gold catalysts that allow to make optically active 5,7 and 5,6-bicarbocyclic systems.
This work is co-supervised by Prof. J. L. Mascareñas and Dr. Fernando López García.
We have also recently launched a new research program aimed at the invention of unconventional cycloaddition processes based on C-H bond activations, work co-directed by Dr. Moisés Gulías Costa.
Future research in this program will be mainly focused towards the invention of novel, unconventional catalytic cycloaddition technologies based on C-C and C-H activation protocols, the synthetic application of our methods to streamline the assembly of complex carbo and particularly heterocyclic products, and the development of new and efficient asymmetric catalytic strategies.
Our aim is to discover robust transition-metal catalyzed transformations that can take place in aqueous media and cellular lysates, and are susceptible of being exported to living cells, so that in some way we could mimic the mode of action of enzymes.
Our transversal expertise in synthesis, metal catalysis, molecular recognition and chemical biology places us in a unique position to tackle this interdisciplinary project. The results of the project might lead to the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic tools as well as new biotechnological techniques.