Our mission is to study peptidases – in particular proline specific peptidases and basic carboxypeptidases - from a clinical perspective. We investigate their roles in health and disease and evaluate them as drug targets and disease markers. This implies assay design and validation for monitoring activity in complex biological samples, biochemical and functional characterization and evaluation of inhibitors during drug development.
The research activities of the Laboratory of Medical Biochemistry (Prof. I. De Meester, Prof. A.M. Lambeir and Prof. D. Hendriks) of the University of Antwerp focus on the biochemical and clinical aspects of enzymes that are possible new drug targets. The scope of the work includes:
- Isolation, purification and characterization of enzymes from mammalian sources, specifically proline specific peptidases and basic carboxypeptidases. We develop and validate enzymatic assays for these enzymes.
- Substrate specificity and structure-function relationships in the prolyl oligopeptidase family and related serine proteases (DPP IV, DPP8, DPP9, DPP II, PRCP and PREP), as well as in the metallo-carboxypeptidase family (CPU, CPN and CPM).
- Enzymological and kinetic characterization of inhibitors of these peptidases, in close collaboration with the Laboratory of Medicinal Chemistry (Prof. K. Augustyns, Prof. P. Van Der Veken).
- Determination of enzyme levels in normal and pathological (clinical) samples.
- Identification of peptides that are in vivo substrates for these peptidases.
- Effects of selective peptidase inhibitors in vitro as well as in vivo, in specific disease models.