A glass of water has more molecules than there are stars in the night sky. That’s what I found out from my friend Jack (Qiang) Zhang, an assistant professor of chemistry at Washington State University.
“Everything around us is made up of molecules,” he said. “And while these molecules may be different, they are all made of the same things.”
Those things are called atoms. Zhang told me we can think about atoms kind of like Lego blocks. Imagine that you have a pile of red Legos, yellow Legos, and blue Legos. Maybe you use them to build a tiny house, or you can use this same set of Legos to build something else like an airplane or a robot.
Just as you can arrange blocks in different ways, atoms arranged in different ways can make up different objects. There are a lot of atoms, but let’s talk about three of them. We can find their names on a big chart called the Periodic Table of Elements.
Cancer Targeted Technology (CTT), a privately-held Seattle-based biotechnology company, announced today that it filed an Investigational New Drug Application (IND) with the FDA to move forward a radiotherapeutic drug, CTT1403, into human clinical trials for prostate cancer. CTT1403 is a peptidomimetic drug that targets Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA).
“We are very excited with the potential for CTT1403 to make a difference in men with advanced stage prostate cancer. This is a highly innovative molecule that combines excellent PSMA-targeting characteristics, already proven effective in prostate cancer, with the ability to enhance circulation time allowing for greater anti-tumor effects,” stated Dr. Beatrice Langton-Webster, CTT’s CEO and Principal Investigator for the clinical program.
The unique chemical structure for CTT1403 was designed by Dr. Cliff Berkman, Professor of Chemistry at Washington State University and consultant to CTT as its Chief Scientific Officer.
The work to discover and progress CTT1403 through preclinical development to IND was funded by a $2.3M Small Business Innovation Research contract from the NIH.
The WSU Office of Research presented awards to eight faculty members, including three in the College of Arts and Sciences, for their outstanding achievements in research, as part of opening ceremonies for WSU Research Week.
The Creative Activity, Research and Scholarship Award went to Kim Christen, professor in the Department of English, director of the Digital Technology and Culture Program, director of the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation, and director of Digital Initiatives for the College of Arts and Sciences.
Christen has generated more than $4 million in external funding, including WSU’s first institutional grant from the Mellon Foundation. She has leveraged this support to create and sustain interdisciplinary projects and workspaces, most prominently establishing with WSU Libraries the new Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation.
She directs several digital humanities projects, including the Plateau Peoples’ Web Portal, a collaboratively curated site of Plateau cultural materials; Mukurtu CMS, a free and open source content management system and community digital archive aimed at the unique needs of indigenous communities; and the Sustainable Heritage Network, an online community of people dedicated to making the preservation and digitization of cultural heritage materials sustainable, simple, and secure.
An Exceptional Service to the Office of Research Award went to Tammy Barry, professor in the Department of Psychology. Barry co-chairs the Research and Arts Committee & the Centers, Institutes, or Laboratories task force, and provides outstanding support for the many Office of Research initiatives.
The awards included a prize for submitting the best idea to the National Science Foundation’s 2026 Idea Machine, a competition to help set the U.S. agenda for fundamental research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and STEM education. The winner of this award is Peter Reilly, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, for his idea “Ultra-High Mass Spectrometry: The Next Frontier.”
Washington State University scientists have been awarded $1 million from the W.M. Keck Foundation to develop molecular machines that self-replicate, producing pounds of 100-percent pure material.
The two principal investigators for the Keck grant, James Brozik, the Donald and Marianna Matteson Distinguished Professor of chemistry at WSU, and Kerry Hipps, Regents Professor of chemistry, have decades of experience in molecular spectroscopy, single-molecule research and material science. Their team will include two postdoctoral fellows and two graduate students who will work full time on the interdisciplinary project for the next three years.
“This cutting-edge research is a prime example of the innovative work being done by our faculty in chemistry, as well as in units all across the WSU system, and contributes to our goal to be among the top 25 public research universities in the nation by 2030,” said Larry Hufford, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Tech red, an enigmatic technetium compound that has resisted characterization for half a century, has been identified using chemical detective-work and computer modelling. The molecule’s unusual chemistry may explain why it has proven so difficult to unmask.
‘There are only a handful of laboratories who can work with large amounts of technetium, and even fewer who have access to anything other than simple characterization techniques,’ explains John McCloy, who investigates radioactive materials at Washington State University.