Bringing Supramolecular Chemistry to Life

Sijbren Otto, Stefan Kubrik, Sofia Pascu, Peter T Corbett, Zadia Rodriguez-Docampo

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


The present impact of supramolecular chemistry in biology is not as
large as it could be. The affinities of most water-soluble supramolecular
receptors are many orders of magnitude lower than those of their
biological counterparts, preventing their application in biological systems.
We believe that the superiority of biological hosts is due to
noncovalent interactions within their structures that enhance binding
affinity. We have recently discovered that the synthetic receptors for
anions that we have developed exhibit enhanced affinities as a result
of similar intra-receptor interactions. This effect has as yet unexplored
potential as a tool for pushing binding affinities of synthetic receptors
into the desirable nanomolar affinity range. Another area where an
expanding role of supramolecular chemistry is expected is that of
complex systems. We have investigated the behaviour of dynamic
combinatorial libraries of hosts in response to the introduction of
guest molecules. These investigations have improved our understanding
of thermodynamically controlled molecular networks, which is relevant for the use of dynamic combinatorial libraries as a method to
discover new receptors, but also provides a new entry into the emerging
field of systems chemistry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings Of The Beilstein Bozen Symposium
Subtitle of host publicationMolecular Interactions – Bringing Chemistry To Life
PublisherBeilstein-Institut Zur Forderung der Chemischen Wissenschaften
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2007


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