Pioneering Therapeutics

We harness the wide breadth of cross-cutting science to harmonise and support key research activities aligned to modern-day therapeutics discovery and development. Projects includes identifying new approaches for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and cancer angiogenesis, as well as immunotherapy cancer treatments and eye drops that reverse degeneration of sight. 

We are involved in all aspects of pre-clinical therapeutic discovery including that of small molecule drugs, biopharmaceutics and vaccines. More broadly we have expertise in biomarker identification, medicine chemistry and high-throughput screening, DMPK, pre-clinical models and advanced drug delivery. 

Our researchers focus on a number of therapeutic challenges including the identification of new selective ligands for G-protein coupled receptors using fluorescence; improving the targeting and efficacy of brain and breast cancer drugs using protein nanocages; addressing the developing issue of antimicrobial resistance through the identification of new antibiotics for future use in both human and animal health; combining structural biology, in silico methods and organic synthesis to generate compounds that are active against respiratory diseases including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and tuberculosis.

Researchers within the School of Pharmacy undertake pioneering research within the Division of Biomolecular Science and Medicinal Chemistry, aimed at understanding biological processes, and applied research in the areas of target identification, bioassay development and drug discovery. Biological chemistry research within the School of Chemistry involves the use of analytical, computational and synthetic chemistry methods, together with those in molecular and structural biology to investigate, disrupt and harness a wide range of biological systems from single peptides and proteins through to bacteria, plants and higher animals. Other research groups with substantial therapeutics research strands include those working on vaccines (Lindy Durrant and Ruth Griffin) and Clostridium Directed Enzyme Prodrug Therapy (Nigel Minton).

Research project highlights

Key areas of research include the development of computational tools, fluorescent ligands andcomplementary structural studies to aid drug discovery against specific G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) subtypes involved in cardiovascular or respiratory diseases and cancer angiogenesis. This research involves other groups in the Queen’s Medical Centre and at Birmingham University through the joint Centre for Membrane Proteins and Receptors (COMPARE) and has received substantial funding from the MRC. Fluorescent ligands have also been developed against the P2Y2 receptor.

A variety of antimicrobial agents have been identified and their mode of action defined using structural biology techniques. These include LY256 an agent that is effective against Clostridioides (previously Clostridium) difficile through an MRC DPFS grant, the development of quinolones that inhibit the virulence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms through interference of the biosynthesis of their quorum sensing molecules through the SENBIOTAR programme. Campylobacter jejuni colonise the gastrointestinal tracts of large numbers of poultry and can cause food poisoning if not killed during cooking. Researchers in the Biodiscovery Institute have developed several iron amino acid complexes that significantly reduce the colonisation and this effect has been scaled-up to large field trials.

Drug targeting and delivery are active areas of research, building on the widely used brain cancer drug, temozolomide, developed by Prof. Malcolm Stevens, emeritus Professor at Nottingham.  New analogues that are active against resistant glioblastoma are being developed and improved targeting with reduced side effects are being investigated through the use of a protein nanocapsule as a ‘trojan horse’ delivery vehicle. Other research is looking at targeted delivery to the lymphatic system of anticancer and antiviral agents, and of prodrugs for targeting the lungs.

Our researchers

Search the table below to find out more about our researchers. You are able to filter the table by searching for names, keywords, and techniques.

Full list of our researchers
NameResearch keywordsResearch techniques
Cinzia Allegrucci Cancer, stem cells, epigenetics, disease modelling, genetics iPSC technology, 3D cell culture models, in vitro assays, epigenetic analysis
Steve Atkinson Yersinia pestis, plague, black death, molecular genetic pathways, antibiotic resistance Plague insect infection, soil infection, molecular genetics of plague
Tracey D Bradshaw Cancer, pharmacology, drug discovery, apoferritin, molecular mechanisms Tissue culture, cell biology, MTT, western blot, flow cytometry
Weng Chan Antibiotic discovery, medicinal chemistry, chemical biology, anti-virulence, peptide chemistry Solid-phase peptide synthesis, organic synthesis, in vitro microbial assay, drug design
Rachel Clifford   Respiratory, Epigenetics, Transcriptional regulation, DNA methylation, inhaled exposures Primary cell culture, methylomics, histone modification analysis, transcriptomics, molecular biology
Beth Coyle Paediatric brain tumours, resistance, metastasis, tumour microenvironment    3D cell culture, apoptosis, cytotoxicity, migration assays
Madhumita Dandapani Childhood cancer, brain tumours, cancer metabolism, clinical trials, global health   Immunohistochemistry, western blotting, cell culture, multi-omics, systematic reviews
Chris Denning Drug discovery, cancer, thrombosis, protein kinase, protein interactions   Biochemical assays, cellular assays, enzyme assays, assay development, high throughput screening
Chris Denning Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), heart/ cardiovascular disease, drug discovery and evaluation, regenerative medicine        Cardiovascular lineage differentiation, CRISPR engineering, phenotype-genotype correlations, automation
James Dixon Gene therapy, gene editing, vaccines, nucleic acid delivery, regenerative medicine Genetic engineering/ editing, nanoformulation, reporter assays, particle characterisation, biomaterials
Lindy Durrant Cancer immunotherapy, vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, T cells, post-translational modifications Production of antibodies, vaccine design, cancer animal models, T cell assays, ELISA
Isioma Egbuniwe Bile duct cancer, tumour microenvironment, T and B cells, lymphatics, digital pathology      Primary cell isolation and culture, multi-parameter flow cytometry, 3D tumour-immune cell co-culture systems, histopathology, image analysis
Jonas Emsley Structural biology, protein crystallography, protease structure, receptor structure, drug development Protein crystallography, isothermal titration calorimetry, surface plasmon resonance, molecular docking
Mattea Finelli Neurodegenerative diseases, redox mechanisms, oxidative and nitrosative stresses, proteomics, post-translational modifications of proteins      Quantitative/ redox/ PTMs proteomics, cell- and recombinant protein-based assays, stem cell derived disease models, various cell cultures (cortical, cerebellar, hippocampal, DRG, motor neurons)
Pavel Gershkovich Biopharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics, drug delivery, intestinal lymphatic transport, targeted biodistribution Bioanalysis, HPLC, in vivo pharmacokinetics, in vivo biodistribution, pharmacokinetic modelling and simulation
Anna Grabowska Cancer models, tumour microenvironment, target validation, drug screening, drug delivery  Cancer modelling, 3D tissue culture, quantitative PCR, immunohistochemistry
Ruth Griffin Oral vaccine delivery systems, infectious diseases    Gene cloning and protein purification, formulation, in vivo immunogenicity and challenge studies, antibody assays
Nicholas Hannan Stem cells, disease modelling, respiratory disease, liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease         Stem cell differentiation, cell phenotyping, gene editing, CRISPR base editing, organoids
John Heap Engineering biology/ synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, biotechnology, biocatalysis, enzyme evolution          Engineering biology/ synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, biotechnology, biocatalysis, enzyme evolution
Andrew Jackson Cancer, immunotherapy, dendritic Cells (DC), T-cells, signalling       Isolation of rare primary leukocyte subsets, flow cytometry, small molecule kinase inhibitors, multi-cellular immune culture systems
Victoria James Extracellular vesicles, RNA biology, cancer metastasis, epigenetics, inter-cellular communication Nanoparticle biology, RNA biology, cell biology, epigenetics
Sheela Jayaraman Gene expression, chromatin, PRH/ HHEX, cell signalling, transcriptomics         RNAseq, western blotting, subcloning, chromatin immunoprecipitation
Jennie Jeyapalan Epigenomics, prostate cancer, transcriptional regulation, splicing Genomics, RNA seq analysis, molecular biology, cell culture
Simon Johnson Tissue remodelling, proteases, extracellular matrix, rare lung disease, drug repurposing    Protease assays, complex cell culture, molecular pathology
Barrie Kellam Medicinal chemistry, fluorescent ligands, G protein-coupled receptors, drug discovery       Medicinal chemistry, molecular modelling, biospectroscopy, HPLC, fluorescence Imaging
Charlie Laughton Biomolecular structure,   molecular recognition, drug design, formulation design,   molecular dynamics       Molecular dynamics simulations,     protein structure prediction, virtual screening, machine learning, software development
Anbarasu Lourdusamy Brain cancer, childhood cancer, systems biology, artificial intelligence, big data Bioinformatics, NGS (RNAseq, ChIPseq, scRNAseq and ATAC-seq) data analysis, machine learning, statistics, high-performance computing
Srinvasan Madhusudan Medical oncology, clinical trials, breast cancer, DNA repair therapeutics, drug discovery       DNA repair assays, immunohistochemical techniques, clinical trial methodologies
Stewart Martin Breast, brain and ovarian cancer, radiotherapy, metastasis, novel drugs, redox homeostasis, calpain proteases      Radiation biology, immunohistochemistry, cell and molecular biology
Alvaro Mata Biomaterials, tissue engineering, regenerative materials, in vitro models, biomineralization       Self-assembly, bioprinting, electron microscopy
Alan McIntyre Cancer, hypoxia (low oxygen), acidosis, transcription, epigenetics, angiogenesis CRISPR CAS9, RNA-SEQ, ChIP, tumour cell phenotype assays, hypoxia and acidosis investigations
Shailesh N. Mistry Drug discovery, chemical biology, medicinal chemistry, G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), allosteric modulators          Medicinal chemistry, compound purification, spectroscopic analysis, ligand/ structure-based drug discovery
Poulam Patel Melanoma, renal cancer, cancer immunotherapy, clinical trials, translational medicine Clinical trials, immune assays,
Ruman Rahman Brain cancer, cancer heterogeneity, cancer metabolism, biomaterial-based drug delivery, integrated genomics  3D primary tumour culture, qRT-PCR, gene microarrays/ knockdowns, Western blotting,
Judith Ramage Cancer, immunology, T-lymphocytes, vaccines        Multiplex fluorescence immunohistochemistry, T-cell assays 
Frankie Rawson Wireless bioelectronics, bioelectricity, electrochemistry, bionanotechnology, bioelectronic medicine SECM-AFM, voltammtery, amperomerty
Timothy Ritzmann Childhood brain tumours, brain tumour immunity, childhood cancer, ependymoma, cancer recurrence     RNA-sequencing, multiplex immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry, clinical data analysis, childhood brain tumour clinical trials
Karen Robinson Helicobacter pylori, antimicrobial resistance, infection and immunity, gastric cancer, bacterial virulence       Flow cytometry, real-time PCR, immunohistochemistry, antimicrobial sensitivity testing, immune cell purification and culture
Felicity Rose   Biointerfaces; biomaterials; peptide materials; hydrogels; computational material science          Surface modification and analysis; polymerisation kinetics; light and enzyme responsive materials; material characterisation
Ian Sayers Molecular, genetic and cellular mechanisms underlying asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, virus-host interactions, stratified medicine Gene discovery, primary airway cell and tissue models, functional genetics, transcriptomics, patient translational studies
Claire Seedhouse Blood cancers, drug resistance, stem cells, dormancy, functional consequences of mutations Quantitative PCR, flow cytometry, primary suspension cultures
Abdol Shams-Nateri Adult stem cells and cancer, precision oncology/ personalized cancer treatments, intra-tumour heterogeneity, cell signalling and transcription, ubiquitin proteasome system and F-box proteins         3D Organoids and explants models, gene targeting and transgenics, CRISPR-Cas gene editing systems, epithelial and hematopoietic stem cells assays
Stuart Smith High grade glioma, low grade glioma, childhood brain tumours, drug delivery, tumour heterogeneity rtPCR, RNA methylation, IHC, FACS
Ian Spendlove Controlling iTreg, engineering T cells, cloning TCRs from cancer patients, cancer survivors, anti cancer antibodies.     TCR cloning/ transduction, CRISPR-Cas9 of primary leukocytes, flow sorting rare T cells, differentiating iTreg, autophagosome purification.
Michael Stocks Medicinal chemistry, drug discovery, cancer, antimicrobial resistance, prodrugs       Synthesis, drug optimisation, drug delivery, medicinal chemistry
Sarah Storr Cancer, breast cancer, DARPP-32, calpain, cell signalling     Cell culture, bioinformatics, immunohistochemistry, molecular biology, protein purification
Amanda Tatler Respiratory disease, tissue remodelling, fibrosis, matrix, 3D models Precision cut tissue slices, in vivo respiratory models, molecular biology, TGFb activation assays, immunohistochemistry/ immunofluorescence
Neil Thomas Enzyme mechanism, enzyme inhibitors, biopharmaceutics, silk and other protein-based biomaterials, nanobiotechnology    Bioconjugation, chemiluminescence, un-natural amino acid mutagenesis, enzyme activity assays, enzyme inhibitor design
Alex Thompson Blood cancer, stem cell technologies, pre-clinical evaluation, next-generation models, drug discovery       In vivo modelling, iPSC maintenance and differentiation, haematopoiesis, colony-forming assays, gene expression profiling
Lisa White Regenerative medicine, biomaterials, extracellular matrix, hydrogels, microparticles Decellularization, micro x-ray computed tomography, mammalian cell culture, biomaterials characterisation, supercritical CO2
Huw Williams NMR, molecular interactions, molecular structure, analytical, kinetics NMR, molecular interactions, solid state NMR, molecular dynamics, molecular structure
Paul Williams Quorum sensing, biofilms, bacteria, biomaterials, antimicrobial agents Bacterial genetics, bacterial culture, antimicrobial assays, quorum sensing assays, microscopy/ imaging

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