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Leonie Etheridge

Doctor of Philosophy, (Chemistry)
Study Completed: 2020
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
The Synthesis and Chemistry of [2.2]Paracyclophane Amino Acid Derivatives

Because they are 3-dimensional, many molecules can take ‘left’- or ‘right’-handed forms. These forms behave differently, so in applications such as pharmaceuticals or agrochemicals, it is essential to get the correct hand; otherwise the consequences can be disastrous. However, the synthesis of the correct hand of a molecule is challenging. Nature solves this problem by using enzymes: protein-based catalysts that control reactions. Chemists want to use smaller versions of these, known as peptides. In order to design improved catalysts, they need to understand their structure and function. Ms Etheridge developed and optimised methods for synthesising a unique unnatural amino acid that can be incorporated into novel peptides. These peptides were tested as catalysts for the formation of handed compounds. Ms Etheridge found that increasing the rigidity of the catalyst increased its influence on the formation of the correctly-handed compound, leading to more controlled reactions.

Associate Professor Gareth Rowlands
Professor Paul Plieger