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UEA Pharmacy research highlighted on the front page of Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry

Biophysical work led by Dr Zoë Waller found that several known drugs bind an alternative DNA structure.  The publication, entitled Identification of new DNA i-motif binding ligands through a fluorescent intercalator displacement assay, was performed in collaboration with Dr Susan Matthews, also in the school of Pharmacy at UEA.

Dr Waller’s work is focussed on studying unusual DNA structures. In this case, her group have identified that several known drugs already used in the clinic can actually interact with an alternative DNA structure called an i-Motif. These are four-stranded (quadruplex) DNA structures formed from sequences which contain a lot of cytosine. These sequences are prevalent in the human genome and may play a role in whether genes are switched on or off. Targeting these alternative structures with compounds could provide a different way to target genetic disease, but there are very few ligands which have been shown to interact with i-motif DNA.

Dr Waller’s group used a fluorescence based assay to screen many different compounds against the alternative DNA structure. The work is described in a YouTube video which she has created.

Dr Waller's cover