Dr. Sanjayan - a “CSIR New Idea Fund” awardee (formerly called crazy idea), has pioneered in the design and development of synthetic peptide/protein scaffolds (systems which mimic the structural and functional characteristics of peptides and proteins), which may be of use in intervening various protein-protein / cell membrane interactions. Artificial protein mimetics / structures that adopt specific, compact conformations have a wide range of potential applications. For instance, such synthetic oligomers can provide tight-binding ligands for a large protein recognition site, unachievable by the traditional small molecule approaches. It is noteworthy that conformationally organized synthetic oligomers find extensive application in areas of biomedical and material science (Sanjayan et al. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2013, 135, 11477; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2012, 51, 4006 – 4008, highlight).
Dr. Sanjayan’s acclaimed work on artificial peptide/protein structures based on the acrylamide oligomer platform has attracted considerable attention from peers and has been highlighted in magazines / journals (vide infra). Remarkably, there are distinctive differences between native protein sheets and the ones discovered by Sanjayan’s group. Whereas the protein β-sheets make use of the hydrogen-bonding interactions from the backbone for molecular recognition events leading to self-assembly, the sheet-mimetic developed by Sanjayan’s group utilizes the amide groups of the side chain to attain its self-assembled structural architecture. This discovery will have a bearing in utility, since such systems will have improved proteolytic stability due to the absence of the native amino acid residues which would be easily recognized by the proteolytic enzymes.