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Work in Progress

The current research program of Professor Petrenko is focused on:

  • Monitoring and detection of biological threats 
  • Diagnosis of infectious diseases and cancer
  • Targeting of tumor cells

To attack these problems, Dr. Petrenko employs methods of Directed Molecular Evolution and Multivalent Phage Display that are being developed by his group. This program is a logical continuation of his previous study of the Combinatorial Biochemistry and Landscape phage Libraries. 

Valery A. Petrenko began his research activity in 1969 as a student at the Moscow State University in the Laboratory of Phosphor-organic Chemistry headed by Prof. E.E. Nifant'ev. His goal was to synthesize “live molecules”—the materials that could normally operate in living cells. In his master diploma project, Valery Petrenko developed new phosphorylation agents for synthesis of DNA, glycosyl-phosphates and other important natural compounds. After graduating from the University in 1972, he continued his work as a Ph.D. student in the Institute of Organic Chemistry, USSR Academy of Sciences, Moscow. His supervisors were Academician N.K. Kochetkov and Prof. V.N. Shibaev—internationally recognized leaders in DNA and carbohydrate chemistry. In his Ph.D. dissertation project, Valery Petrenko studied biosynthesis of Salmonella antigens using synthetic analogs of thymidine-diphosphate-rhamnose. Results of this study are presented in 7 papers. 

Since 1977, Dr. Petrenko has focused his scientific interests on directed molecular evolution, synthesis and designed reconstruction of DNA, phage display, protein drug design, and diagnostics. He began this research as a Junior Scientist (1977-1978), a Senior Scientist (1978-1982) and Head of the Laboratory of Nucleic Acids (1982-1985) in the Institute of Molecular Biology, and continued it as Scientific Director, Director and Professor (1989-1993) of the Institute of Biologically Active Substances in the Center of Biotechnology “Vector”, Novosibirsk (Russia), and then--as Visiting Professor and Research Professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia (U.S.A.). Results of his research activity during this period are presented in 65 papers, his D.Sci. Dissertation, 44 Abstracts and Proceedings, and 14 patents. 

As a faculty member in the Department of Pathobiology (since October 2000), Prof. Petrenko has established a strong, extramurally funded Program in the areas of Directed Molecular Evolution and Targeting. He directs a scientific team consisting of Visiting Professor, two Postdoctoral Fellows, Research Associate and three PhD students. The research program of the team includes:

  • Construction of new phage vectors and diverse phage display libraries.

  • Selection of tumor-targeting phage probes and their use for diagnosis and targeted gene and drug delivery and treatment of cancer diseases.

  • Selection and evolutionary improvement of phage-derived probes against Salmonella typhimurium, Bacillus anthracis and other food and environmental threat agents.

  • Genetically engineered self-assembling of bio-selective layers in biosensors for detection of microbial and toxic threat agents.

  • Optimization of monitoring and detection of Salmonella typhimurium, Bacillus anthracis and other threat agents by phage-derived probes immobilized on the surface of biosensors.

Prof. Valery Petrenko is a core member of the Auburn University Detection and Food Safety Center (AUDFS). Dr. Petrenko plays a key role in the Center in designing robust and environmentally stable probes for detection devices.

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