Milan Urban receives Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry Dean’s Award for publication on triterpene conjugates

Milan Urban, Photo: UPFMD archives
Thursday 15 October 2020, 9:01 – Text: Šárka Chovancová

Milan Urban, from the Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, and also a member of the UP Faculty of Science, won the UP Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry Dean’s Award for his article “Design and synthesis of pentacyclic triterpene conjugates and their use in medicinal research”, published in the prestigious European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. The awards ceremony took place in the Department of Neurology and University Hospital Olomouc’s lecture hall.

“This overview article is largely the result of the work of my students and postdoctoral students from the Department of Organic Chemistry at the UP Faculty of Science, specifically Jiří Hodona, Lucie Borková, Jan Pokorný and Anna Kazaková. I support the intensive involvement of students in our laboratory’s scientific work and grant projects. We all enjoy the interconnection between chemistry and biology, which is why I very much appreciate the well-functioning cooperation between both workplaces,” said Urban.

Urban’s team deals with pentacyclic triterpenes, which are natural compounds that have (not only) antitumour activity. “The awarded work deals with conjugates formed by combining these triterpenes with other molecules. We form conjugates in order to increase the selective cytotoxic activity of the intitial terpenes against tumour cells, to improve their solubility in aqueous media, but they also allow us to investigate the mechanism by which these substances work. Thanks to one type of conjugate, we can make the active molecule visible in the cell and observe its fate. Using another type of conjugate, we find proteins to which our active substance binds, the blocking of which is related to biological activity. Our scientific work has culminated in this article, which contains an overview of our results and puts them into context with the work of other researchers,” explained Urban.

Experts from both the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and the Faculty of Science have been dealing with the issue of conjugates for a long time. “In previous years, we have published a number of primary results of this research, some of which have also been given the Dean’s Award of the UP Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. Out of these, I value the three Czech patents granted in 2018, in which Miroslav Soural and Jan Šarek also took part. Lucie Borková placed second in the Jean-Marie Lehn Prize in Chemistry in 2018 for her dissertation, and my students have also been cited by the Dean of the Faculty of Science for their student work,” added Urban.