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Development of gold nanomaterial-based biosensors. Gold nanostructures are wonderous things — depending on their proximity to each other, a complex phenomenon known as surface plasmon resonance induces quantifiable spectral shifts and a visible colour change between red and blue. If these gold nanostructures can be specifically “tuned” in their proximal response to biomacromolecules of interest, they can be used to develop simple and rapid spectrophotometric detection schemes for markers of health and disease — without the need for complex instrumentation or convoluted lab procedures. Note: while this project is listed as “active,” it is on somewhat of a hiatus while we currently seek an appropriate collaborator (e.g. a materials chemist) who is interested in synthesizing gold nanostructures and working with an undergraduate biochemistry research group.
Reversal of insulin resistance. The insulin receptor signaling pathway (IRSP) is arguably the most important — and most complex — signal transduction pathway responsible for regulating the metabolism and physiology of animal cells. The most recognizable molecular pathology arising from IRSP dysfunction is type 2 diabetes; however, insulin resistance is also implicated in Alzheimer’s dementia, as well as various cancers (both as a cause and effect), among other diseases. We are currently using a molecular pharmacology approach to explore and characterize a family of naturally-occurring chemical compounds known as catechols — which are naturally present in various foods associated with ameliorating type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, such as spicy foods, antioxidant roots, and teas.