Dr. Mark E. Janik
My research interests are in the area of synthetic organic/medicinal chemistry. I
am currently involved with two projects. The compound colchicine is a known antimitotic
agent. It exerts its anticancer effect by binding to the protein tubulin. This binding
inhibits the polymerization of tubulin and hence stops the mitotic cycle. The binding
mechanism of colchicine to tubulin, however, is at this time not fully understood.
In addition, colchicine though highly potent is also highly toxic. As a result, its
clinical usefulness is severely limited. Thus, the goal of this project is to investigate
the colchicine-tubulin interaction and to develop clinically improved colchicine-like
drugs. This will be accomplished by synthesizing compounds that bind to the colchicine
site on tubulin. The biological activity of these compounds will then be tested and
these activities will be compared to those of other colchicine-like compounds. This
comparison will help further elucidate the binding mechanism of these drugs and it
will also provide compounds with potentially improved clinical utility and less toxic
side effects as compared to colchicine.