The recently established Chemical Biology/Medicinal Chemistry theme focuses on identifying small molecule-based enzyme inhibitors/ligands and developing chemical strategies for the advancement of molecular therapeutic research programmes in the School of Pharmacy and beyond.
Research is biology-led with an emphasis on chemical target identification aimed at enabling drug-discovery programmes and/or developing chemical tools to be used in basic cell biology programmes. Research strategies include the use of optimised computational methods to integrate chemistry, biology and medicine, for example, by using molecular docking and 3D QSAR. Of particular interest in this programme of research are the disease-associated GPCRs and collagen-binding proteins being investigated within QUB.
In addition, synthetic programmes focus on nucleoside, phosphorus and carbohydrate chemistry and its use in the development of biologically-useful tools including chemical markers and entities for understanding SAR on nucleoside metabolic pathways. This programme also involves development of facile protocols for the synthesis of therapeutically valuable phosphorus-containing entities, simultaneously improving their medicinal properties and commercial viability.
Computational and chemical activities will support biology-based projects. These include the investigation of protease and transferase enzymatic processes and the role of collagen and its binding proteins in health and disease. The integration of in silico, chemical and biological research programmes will provide a platform upon which we can build effective drug-discovery programmes, through which we will identify tool compounds, hit compounds and begin the process of lead compound development.
Work carried out in this theme is sponsored by the major research councils including MRC, EPSRC and BBSRC. Furthermore, there are a number of substanial research relationships with industry, including GSK Stevenage, Warner Chilcott Ltd and Merck KGaA. In this later case, the phosphorus-based chemistry enabled by the use of ionic liquids and collaboratively developed within QUB, resulted in the generation of commercialised products which employ the QUB-developed technology for their manufacture.