Mission: To facilitate the development and application of cutting-edge tools, often inspired by the physical sciences, to enable researchers to tackle current challenges in biology and medicine.
This theme encompasses method- and tool-driven science, such as chemical and physical approaches for understanding and manipulating biological processes. Our goals are to develop approaches to drive step-changes in our ability to interrogate biological mechanisms and to facilitate future hypothesis-driven life-science research. This includes both the application and innovative combination of current state-of-the-art tools and the invention and refinement of new tools.
Some approaches currently being developed are: platforms to discover next-generation small molecule tools, surface mimics of biological interfaces, advanced microfluidic devices, soft matter tools for biology, computational methods and the development of analytical tools (such as single-molecule spectroscopy, combined microscopies and structural mass spectrometry).
Key areas of focus:
- Integration of machine learning and technologies to enable discovery of manufacturable biopharmaceuticals;
- “Seeing into Cells” using chemical, biophysical and bioanalytical approaches to study the mechanism and function of proteins and other macromolecules in cells.
Key discoveries made:
- Chemical photocrosslinkers for rapid mapping of protein interactions
- Chemical “prosthetics” for restoring protein function
- Affimers as renewable affinity reagents for studying biological mechanisms
- Functionalised quantum dot probes of multivalent protein-ligand interactions
- A platform for the discovery of diverse functional small molecules with novel functions