Chris Allison
Speaker's Institution
Colorado State University
4:00 PM
Chemistry A101
Mixer Time
3:45 PM
Mixer Location
Chemistry B101E
Additional Information

Research Seminar Abstract

Polysaccharides are used as scaffolds for drug delivery1,2. As these materials move from the lab towards medical use, a thorough understanding of their structures and related products is crucial. In this presentation, mass spectrometry will be used to identify products from a range of polysaccharide degradation protocols using chitosan as a model system. Chitosan is a copolymer composed of glucosamine and N-acetylglucosamine and a component of arthropod exoskeletons and fungal cell walls3. The first project discussed focuses on the potential structural modifications that occur during the addition of nitric oxide-releasing moieties to chitosan. My studies indicate that protocols using in situ nitrous acid generation render chitosan susceptible to degradation by generation of monomers such as 2,5-anhydro-d-mannose4. As chitosan derivatives are intended to be placed in contact with tissues or blood, alteration to their structures could potentially affect functionality and potential toxicity. The second project discussed will take advantage of the degradation of chitosan and chitin as a biomarker to detect fungal infections. Degradation of chitin and chitosan is possible through a variety of chemical and enzymatic agents5, each of which provides a unique chemical fingerprint. These can be related back to the presence of polymeric chitosan, which can then be correlated to the presence of fungi. Overall, these studies indicate that mass spectrometry provides an excellent method to screen polysaccharides for a variety of degradation products and shows promise as a diagnostic tool for detecting fungal infections.

(1) Sun, T et al. Carbohydr. Polym. 2004 (58) 379-382.
(2) Alves, N.; Mano, J. Int J. Biol. Macromol. 2008 (43) 401-414
(3) Stevens, M. Polymer Chemistry: An Introduction 1999 Oxford University Press. New York, New York.
(4) Allison, C.L., Lutzke, A.; Reynolds, M.M. Carbohydr. Polym. 2019 (203) 285-291.
(5) Wasikiewicz et al. Radiat. Phys. Chem. 2004 (73) 287-295.


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