My scholarship activities have and will continue to be in the broad field of design and testing of novel bioactive peptides and proteins. Indeed, my collaborators and I were the first to demonstrate their broad-spectrum antibacterial, antifungal, antiprotozoal, antiviral and anticancer activities.
Also, we were the first to introduce genes, encoding some of these peptides that are antimicrobial, into plants and animals. Furthermore, these genetically engineered plants have enhanced resistance to pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Some of the later designs possess potent activity with limited toxicity.
Recently, I have discovered a new class of peptides that can affect host/pathogen interaction and other diseased states indirectly by modulation of cell-signaling pathways in vivo. I believe that these peptides could become new therapeutic agents that interrupt the disease process in plants and animals in novel ways. I am collaborating with a number of scientists around the world in order to elucidate the mechanism of action of this class of molecules.
I have also designed a de novo artificial plant storage protein (the first of its kind) to accomplish the goal of providing a complete protein that can be adjusted to accommodate any composition of essential amino acids required for any particular animal species, including humans. Dr.’s C.S. Prakash and Marceline Egnin, of Tuskegee University have introduced the gene encoding this storage protein into sweet potatoes. Several years of field trials have been completed and small animal feeding studies conducted. The results of this work have been most promising.