Nucleic Acid Center is a research centre established in 2001, based on fundings from the Danish National Research Foundation for studies on Nucleic Acid Chemical Biology.
The idea of the research center was to combine synthetic organic chemistry and the encoded recognition pattern of nucleic acids in novel innovative and creative ways.
The research center is located at the University of Southern Denmark, at the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, joining the major research areas of nucleic acid chemical biology under one roof.
The recent attention assigned to chemical biology reflects the fact that pioneering research in the areas of biochemistry and molecular biology develops to be more and more of chemical nature as increasing insight into the exact molecular events in the biological processes is obtained.
A more description of these processes is no longer adequate – instead a detailed chemical understanding is needed leading to a deeper scientific understanding and thus to the possibility of designing improved drugs or biochemical/biotechnological tools. The discipline of chemical biology involves organic chemical synthesis, detailed studies on the structure of biomolecules, molecular modeling, and biological or chemical evaluation of natural compounds or analogues thereof.
Chemical Biology of Nucleic Acids concerns studies related to the DNA and RNA molecules used by nature for storage and replication of genetic information. During the last two decades, the automated synthesis of short DNA/RNA sequences (oligonucleotides) has been developed as have NMR spectroscopic and X-ray crystallographic methods needed for structural investigation. The basic chemical tools are therefore now available for a strong move forward in the research focused on the chemical biology of nucleic acids.
The five research groups constituting the Nucleic Acid Center cover main areas of nucleic acid chemistry and chemical biology, i.e. synthetic nucleoside and nucleotide chemistry (Jesper Wengel, Poul Nielsen and Erik B. Pedersen), molecular modelling and biomolecular NMR (the NMR group), and RNA molecular biology (Stephen Douthwaite).
Synthesis, structure elucidation, and biological/chemical investigation of a large number of nucleosides, intercalating monomers and DNA-analogues have been accomplished within the center.