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Research in Chemistry at the Life Sciences Interface

The School boasts a range of expertise in areas critical to synthetic, computational and physical chemistry at the life science interface. This grouping provides a focus for interdisciplinary collaboration and funding opportunities. In particular ‘Beacon+’ funding (EU/WRDF – £1.2M) has focused the School’s research in this area on fine chemicals and bulk chemicals from plants and a new WEFO funded project CALIN. Chemistry are part of the collaboration which will be ffocusing on Precision Medicine (diagnostics, devices & therapeutics), Regenerative Medicine, and Bio-Compatibility & Safety Evaluation, CALIN will engage with businesses to support advanced life science product development through collaborative R&D.

See more at: . Further details are below:

Synthetic organic chemistry (Dr J. Al-Dulayymi)

My research activity is focused on the synthesis of individual synthetic mycolic acids and their sugar esters, and in collaboration with other groups examining their biological activity. I am also interested in the synthesis of cyclopropenes and their applications and the identification, isolation and modification of natural products from plants.

Borates and silicates as agricultural biostimulants (Prof. M.A. Beckett)

Boron and/or silicon can act as biostimulants in agriculture crops. The boron and/or silicon has to be bioavailable and methods using plant extracts etc in the formulation of agricultural feeds, to enhance bioavailablity, is being investigated.

Synthetic methodology (Dr P.J. Murphy)

Research encompasses synthetic approaches towards marine natural products with extensive biological activity including potential anti-cancer and anti-viral applications and development of new methodologies. There are collaborations with Siena and Tel Aviv Universities on biological applications of total synthetic chemistry as well as with CAFMaD by producing novel polymers for organic electronics.

Bioorganic chemistry (Dr M. Lahmann)

Lahmann worked as a researcher at the Universities of Stockholm and Göteborg before taking up a lectureship in organic chemistry in 2007. Her core expertise, in oligosaccharides, glycosylation reactions and development of protecting group and conjugation techniques, is being applied to carbohydrate-protein interactions at the molecular level to allow a more rational design of pharmaceuticals. This focuses on the binding of bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori to carbohydrate structures. She has published as lead author and has an extensive network of collaborators: e.g. Thiem (Hamburg); Boukheart (Brussels); Imberty and Perez (Grenoble); Oscarson (Dublin).

Applied Research in Chemistry and Health (Dr C. D.Gwenin)

Applied Research in Chemistry and Health research group have several collaborations with industry and universities worldwide. Our main research themes are the detection of TBcancer therapy, the detection of Botulinum toxin and we are a very active member of the WISE network. Dr Gwenin’s focus is firmly on high value research at the interface of biology and chemistry which has afforded him a strong track record of working with Industry and academia.

During his time at Bangor Chris has filed numerous patents, secured Millions of pounds worth of funding, established chemistry’s first category II safe laboratory, is responsible for the biological health and safety of the School and has obtained the school’s first Home Office narcotics licence and a Human tissue licence. Consequently Chris is an active member of the University’s local committee’s for both genetic manipulation and human tissue samples.

Chris’s extensive industrial links have enabled him to take on the role of Industrial Placement Officer representing the School of Chemistry. These links have also enabled him to focus on and consider the commercial consequence and direction of the research the group carries out. 

Dr Gwenin’s research group is continually evolving please see their website for up-to-date details. 

Research in Chemistry at the Life Science Interface (Dr Hongyun Tai)

Polymeric biomaterials with rational designed and engineered chemical composition, functionality and topologies are highly desirable for drug delivery, tissue engineering, sensing, imaging and diagnostics. We synthesize and functionalize polymeric biomaterials by chemical and/or enzymatic catalysed synthetic approaches, living controlled free radical polymerisations, click chemistry and bioconjugation techniques. In addition, self-assembly and colloidal behaviours of biomacromolecules as well as physical and processing properties of polymeric biomaterials are also studies.

Recently, we have successfully developed water soluble polyethylene glycol (PEG) based hyperbranched polymers (PEGMEMA-co-PPGMA-HB-EGDMA) with thermal-responsive and photo-crosslinkable properties via controlled/living radical polymerisations, including one-pot deactivation enhanced atom transfer radical polymerisation (ATRP) and (in-situ) reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer polymerisation (RAFT) (Biomacromolecules, 2009, 822-828; Biomacromolecules, 2009, 2895-2903; Journal of Polymer Science, Part A, Polymer Chemistry, 2013, 51, 3751–3761). We have also developed novel ‘smart’ hyperbranched multifunctional polymers in combination with a ECM biopolymer (Hyaluronic acid) as in-situ formed hydrogel systems via ‘Click chemistry’ (Journal of Materials Science: materials in Medicine, 2012, 23, 25-35; Macromol. Rapid Commun., 2012, 22,120-126).

The injectable and in situ crosslinking hybrid hydrogel system offers great promise as a new class of hybrid biomaterials for tissue engineering. Moreover, we have also developed a water soluble and pH responsive hyperbranched polymeric material, which demonstrated size-dependent membrane disruptive properties and had potential to be used as polymeric nanocarriers for intracellular delivery of therapeutic drugs (Macromolecular Materials & Engineering, 2012, 297, 1175–1183). Collaborations for these works include the University of Nottingham (UK), the University of Washington (USA), Utrecht University (the Netherland), National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland), and the University College Dublin (Ireland).