Chemistry Graduate Research Yields Patent for University

Posted: April 26, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Lynn Burke

Research that began in 1997 when James Wynne was working on his doctorate with chemistry professor Wayne Stalick has brought George Mason a patent for a process to synthesize gamma-carbolines. These compounds can be used in a variety of pharmaceutical applications and to treat neurodegenerative diseases.

“Many recent reports have noted that gamma-carbolines possess numerous biological activities,” reports Stalick. “For example, several substituted gamma-carbolines were examined in a series of in vitro and in vivo pharmacological tests and demonstrated antipsychotic, antibiotic, antitumor, and other related activities. These substances and their precursors are closely related to compounds found to be active against HIV-1, diabetes, and cancer, along with other various medicinal activities.”

Before Wynne and Stalick invented their process, there was no general method for synthesizing gamma-carbolines. “A select number of these compounds were synthesized by unique pathways that were very harsh, and the number of compounds formed was minimal,” says Stalick. “In many cases, the gamma-carbolines reported were actually side products formed in an attempt to make other molecules.”

The compounds still face testing before they can be used to treat humans, a process that can take a long time. One of the team’s compounds was tested by the Tuberculosis Antimicrobial Acquisition and Coordinating Facility of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health. The compound passed the first test with 100 percent efficiency as a novel drug for treating mycobacterial infections.It is now in level-two tests for cytotoxicity assay. Wynne and Stalick are searching for other laboratories to run tests on their compounds to see if they are active against any of the diseases mentioned above.

Stalick retired from Mason last year and is now chair of the Chemistry Department at Central Missouri State University. Wynne, who received his PhD in environmental science and public policy from Mason in 2001, is a staff researcher in the Materials Chemistry Branch of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

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