Medicinal Chemistry's research is conducted in purpose-designed labs with access to state-of-the art equipment in key areas.

Synthetic chemistry

Medicinal Chemistry has 12 modern synthetic chemistry laboratories with 100 fumehoods. Our researchers have access to microwave and flow reactors, including an H-Cube hydrogenator, as well as parallel synthesis equipment. Numerous MPLC and HPLC systems are in place to support compound purification, including a dedicated HPLC for chiral separations. Synthetic research is also supported by a well-equipped spectroscopy facility, which provides both walk-up and automated access to high field NMR and MS instrumentation.

Peptide chemistry

Peptides and peptide analogues have an important place in biomedical science as therapeutics, drug leads and pharmacological reagents. Peptide science is a thriving area of contemporary research with technical advances allowing access to increasingly more complex molecules.

Medicinal Chemistry is equipped with three Protein Technologies automated peptide synthesisers. These instruments allow the routine solid phase synthesis of peptides of up to 30 amino acids in length, and provide the base capacity to develop larger or modified peptides, cyclic peptides, peptidomimetics or small molecules.

Reversed-phase HPLC is the staple purification and analysis device allied to peptide synthesis techniques. A dedicated preparative instrument (Waters Prep LC) allows the purification of 20 – 1000 mg samples. Sample identity and purity is characterised by LC-MS (Shimadzu 2020 LCMS).

Spectroscopy and analysis

NMR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry are important techniques primarily used for the structural characterisation of drugs, peptides and proteins. Spectroscopy facilities support a broad range of research, most notably in structural biology and synthetic medicinal chemistry.

Significant investment has been made in state-of-the-art equipment, including:

  • Bruker 600 MHz NMR spectrometer with cryogenic probe and SampleJet automatic sample changer—primarily used for protein NMR and fragment-based drug discovery
  • Bruker 400 MHz spectrometer with automatic sample changer—servicing the needs of Medicinal Chemistry groups working with small molecules
  • numerous UHPLC-MS systems, including Shimadzu and Agilent SQ LCMS systems
  • Agilent high resolution TOF and Waters LCT Premier XE TOF mass spectrometers—which play an important role in monitoring the progress of synthetic operations and compound characterisation
  • Agilent analytical and prep UHPLC systems—for sample purifications

Computational chemistry

Computer modelling plays a key role in medicinal chemistry, and computational chemistry is a key area of expertise. Medicinal Chemistry maintains a computational chemistry facility with an open access laboratory equipped with Linux workstations that are available to all researchers within the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The facility has a wide range of academic and commercial software to support computational chemistry, X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy and bioinformatics. It supports the large data sets that are generated by molecular simulations and experimental methods, such as NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography. The facility is integrated with the Monash Large Research Data Store, protecting research data and enabling researchers to meet the data retention policies of funding bodies.

Protein expression and purification

Expression and purification of proteins is a requirement for structural biology. Medicinal Chemistry is equipped with a New Brunswick BioFlow 3000 Bioreactor for expansion of bacterial protein expression, and is also able to express proteins in insect cells. Proteins can be purified using affinity chromatography, ion exchange and size exclusion using either of two AKTA FPLC systems.