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Imaging Reagents, Photoswitches, Photochemistry and Biophysics

(A) Imaging Agents: Optical imaging methods have driven much of the extraordinary progress in biology over the last 50 years, and innovations are only accelerating with time. We are contributing to this area by pioneering ways to merge photoswitches with imaging for more powerful performance in both domains than has previously been possible (MSOT); and with readout probes for transitions of biochemical heterogeneity (ferroptosis and membrane integrity).

Rethinking switches and imaging, 1: how to image a photoswitch using acoustics (ChemRxiv 2023) Probes for heterogeneous biosystems, 1: membrane integrity probes for in vivo imaging of ferroptosis and necrosis (BioRxiv 2023)

(B) General photoswitching methods advances: Photoswitchable reagents, such as ours for tubulin and for other biological targets, rely on the right merge of photoswitch with bioactive pharmacophores in order to to address these proteins with the right assay performance. Azobenzenes are popular go-to photoswitches for chemical reasons (ease of synthesis, reliability of photoswitching), but research from us and many others is making it clear that there are large application spaces in biology (particularly, systemic long-term in vivo biology) where photoswitches with different properties are urgently needed.

Catalytic access to per-ortho-alkoxylated azobenzenes: better E→Z & Z→E yields, tuned physicochemical properties (JOC 2022) Z→E switching below 1.0 nm, and a noninvasive method to monitor E/Z ratios, via soft and hard X-rays (Nanophotonics 2022)

Markus and Ben are also developing new ranges of biologically-complementary photoswitch types. Photobleaching resistance, wavelength tuning, ultrafast dynamics - just some of the many facets of photochemistry!

Stay wavelength-tuned...