Reactive sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen species (RSONS) are endogenous signaling molecules that play important roles in almost every physiological process. Their small size allow RSONS to rapidly diffuse through cellular membranes and mediate many aspects of human health. Despite their importance, our understanding of the biological chemistry of these molecules is still in its infancy, and much remains to be learned about how the misregulation of RSONS signaling contributes to diseases such as hypertension, neurodegeneration, and cancer. A key obstacle is the sensitive and selective detection of specific RSONS with high spatiotemporal resolution. In order to address this key technological challenge, our lab is pioneering innovative small molecule probes for imaging RSONS in clinical samples and living organisms. Importantly, these probes have empowered highly interdisciplinary efforts to elucidate the role of RSONS in tumor angiogenesis, explore the stress-related exasperations of asthma, and develop point-of-care diagnostics using smartphone cameras.
The Lippert lab combines innovative organic chemistry with state-of-the-art imaging techniques. We synthesize biocompatible dyes and MRI contrast agents that are activated by chemical reactions inside of cells, enabling the real-time tracking of biochemical events in living systems. These newly developed probes will provide unique tools to study cellular chemistry important in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neuronal signaling.