Life in the Lab: Hanjing Peng
Hanjing Peng is a doctoral student in the lab of Binghe Wang, chair of the Department of Chemistry and director of Georgia State's Center for Diagnostics and Therapeutics. The center focuses on finding new therapeutic drugs to treat disease and new ways to detect disease.
As told to Jeremy Craig:
“I'm studying medicinal chemistry. Our lab has several kinds of projects going on, such as drug discovery, drug delivery and new diagnostics. My project is focused on diagnostic methods. For example, there are a lot of factors and biomarkers in the human body. Concentrations of these biomarkers indicate physiological and pathological conditions.
I discovered that there's a reagent that becomes fluorescent when sulfide is added in. So we explored this and found that this could be a very good method for the detection of sulfide. People previously thought that sulfide was just a toxic agent, but research has revealed that sulfide is a very interesting molecule. It exists in the human body, and it's related to a lot of diseases and plays a regulatory role in some biological systems, like the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system and the endocrine system.
The concentration of sulfide is very important. But sulfide detection is not very easy because it is unstable. Our method is very good because it can detect sulfide quickly. The intensity of the fluorescence is proportional to the sulfide concentration, and we can use it to accurately determine concentrations.
Blood pressure is controlled by sulfide, and sulfide concentration is also related to hyperhomocysteinemia [a condition associated with cardiovascular disease]. Scientists are also trying to use sulfide as a therapeutic agent for treatment of diseases and are trying to find drugs that can release sulfide slowly.”