Doctoral defence in Chemistry - Jóhanna Margrét Grétarsdóttir

Jóhanna Margrét Grétarsdóttir will defend her doctoral thesis in Askja, room 132,  December 14th at 14:00

Dissertation title: Syntheses of new molybdenum-sulfur complexes: Catalytic transformation of cyanide to thiocyanate, and in vitro biological studies.

Opponents: Dr. Celine J. Marmion, Professor at Department of Chemistry, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Dr. Konstantinos D. Demadis, Professor at Department of Chemistry,University of Crete.

Advisor: Dr. Sigríður G. Suman, Professor at the Faculty of Physical Sciences, University of Iceland.

Other members of the doctoral committee: 
Dr. Már Másson, Professor at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Iceland.
Dr. Ingvar H. Árnason, Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Physical Sciences, University of Iceland.

Chair of Ceremony: Dr. Birgir Hrafnkelsson, Professor and Vice Head of the Faculty of Physical Sciences, University of Iceland

Cyanide is a rapid-acting lethal agent and its poisonous properties have been recognized since antiquity. In recent years, cyanide poisoning has received increasing attention as a toxin in inhalation injuries. New alpha-amino molybdenum-sulfur complexes were synthesized as potential emergency treatments for cyanide poisoning in vivo. The complexes were analyzed using NMR spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, UV-vis spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and elemental analysis. Cyclic Voltammograms were obtained as well as crystal structures of selected complexes. Potassium salts of threonine, serine, methionine, and leucine were isolated and characterized for the first time as precursors in the synthesis of the complexes. The salts were analyzed using NMR spectroscopy and elemental analysis.
Development of catalytic metallodrugs place cytotoxicity and physical properties such as water solubility of the potential therapies at the forefront of challenges to overcome. The complexes catalyze the reaction of cyanide and thiosulfate to form sulfite and the less toxic thiocyanate in vitro. The catalysts show high efficiency and can catalytically convert up to 60% of cyanide to thiocyanate in 20 minutes. The reported complexes show high-water solubility compared to previously reported structurally similar complexes as well as relatively low toxicity in cells. Preliminary biological studies on the behavior of the complexes in vitro show that the complexes are able to enter cells and distribute within intracellular compartments.
The results are promising and demonstrate that the complexes are good candidates for future development as emergency treatments for cyanide poisoning in vivo.

About the doctoral candidate:

Jóhanna graduated with a BSc in chemistry from the University of Iceland in 2013. That same year she started graduate studies in chemistry at the University of Iceland. In parallel to her studies she has served as a Teaching Assistant at the University.

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