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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I037253/1
Title: Manchester Chemical Biology Network
Principal Investigator: Micklefield, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AstraZeneca Biotica Technology Ltd GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK)
Imagen Biotech Ltd Manchester Royal Infirmary Morvus Technlogy Ltd
Oxyrane UK Ltd Pfizer Senexis Ltd
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 19 May 2011 Ends: 18 November 2013 Value (£): 148,329
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biological & Medicinal Chem. Chemical Synthetic Methodology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
21 Feb 2011 ChemBio Collaborative Networks Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Chemical biology is the area of science at the interface between chemistry and biology, which uses chemical tools including structural, physical and analytical methodologies as well as synthetic small molecules to gain deeper insight into the function and properties of biomolecules and biomolecular systems (cells). Whilst great benefit can be derived from such interdisciplinary research, particularly in the area of healthcare, boundaries that exist between traditional disciplines have hindered the progress of chemical biology in the UK. In 2006, the University of Manchester took the lead in addressing this issue by establishing the Manchester Interdiscplinary Biocentre (MIB), which was the first major university institute in the UK to bring chemists and biologists together to do research in the same building (ca. 300 in total). We propose to build on this solid foundation, using MIB as a focal point and meeting place, to develop a much wider chemical biology network that unites scientists from across the university including researchers in medical science who can further develop research in chemical biology for medical applications. Importantly, the new Manchester Chemical Biology Network (MCBN) will include partners and collaborators from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, knowledge transfer networks, healthcare providers and medical charities. These end users of chemical biology will help guide the direction of the research in the network and enable us to establish critical cross-discplinary collaborations. Increasing the effectiveness of our collaborations with the end users will be essential if we are to see maximum benefit derived from this research. Ultimately this could include new approaches for the treatment of human disease ranging from bacterial infections through to cancer.

To enable maximum impact from our research to be realised, the network will focus on several key themes. The first theme, small molecules and chemical tools, will involve the development and application computational based approaches for drug design and virtual screening. Such activities can help identify potential drug candidates, which we will synthesise. Also many pharmacologically active small molecules are derived from natural sources (plants, soil bacteria and marine organisms). We will produce and modify these natural product leads using synthetic and biosynthetic methods. In the second theme, new concepts in target modulation will be developed including array based technologies for screening potential drug targets, where targets (proteins or oligosaccharides etc.) are attached to surfaces allowing high throughput imaging of their interactions with other cellular molecules including drugs. Crystallography and NMR methods, developed in Manchester, along with other physical methods will be applied to probe the structure and dynamics of cellular targets, which can further help in the design and optimisation of lead molecules for therapeutic applications. We will apply our knowledge of enzymology (how enzymes work) and cell biology (how the complex components of human cells interact) to uncover new enzymes, other biomolecular targets and pathways for therapeutic intervention, which we will interrogate with our arsenal of small molecules etc. In the third theme, target deconvolution, we will take a systems biology approach, which models all the components in the cell and allows the broader response of cells to abiotic substances (e.g. drugs) to be interpreted. This can be particularly important for predicting possible toxic (side) effects of drugs. In the final theme, intersection of large and small molecules, we will develop new methods for improving the properties of proteins and antibodies for use as therapeutic agents (biopharmaceuticals). We will also develop new drug delivery systems using nanoparticles and other smart materials programmed to target and release drugs in specific diseased cells, but not healthy cells.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk