Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry

School of Pharmacy

Our main research achievements were in the areas of medicinal chemistry of sulphur containing compounds (Hamilton), macrocycles (Matthews) and natural product compounds (Gibbons).

In chemical biology, our current research strengths lie in understanding of assembly of DNA and its alternative motives (Waller), protein-protein interactions (Searcey, Beekman) and epigenetics (Ganesan).

These lines of research are supported by UKRI (EPSRC (Searcey); BBSRC (Searcey, Ganesan), industrial funding (Hamilton, Ganesan), Big C (Searcey), Royal Society and British Council (Matthews, Ganesan). Ganesan was the lead of EU funded COST action Epigenetic Chemical Biology (EPICHEM).

  • By using an in vivo mouse model of lung infection we demonstrated that our novel Calix[4]arene-based glycoclusters functionalized with galactosides or fucosides provided an almost complete protection against Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Matthews).
  • As part of interdisciplinary team (UCL, Southampton, Hong-Kong, UEA), Ganesan showed that NAADP signalling plays a major role in reperfusion-induced cell death and represents a potent pathway for protection against reperfusion injury.
  • Searcey and Beekman discovered a highly efficient approach to the development of inhibitors of the p53/hDMX or hDM2 interaction that involves the design of small molecules in silico based upon a peptide/protein structure.
  • Hamilton made significant advances in understanding the role of bacillithiol, the main thiol metabolite in many Gram-positive bacteria, including identification of its derivatives, studying mechanisms of their synthesis and analysis of genome data.
  • Considerable breakthroughs were achieved in understanding structure-activity relationship of Diphyllin and its derivatives (cytotoxic natural products structurally related to the anti-cancer drug podophyllotoxin) upon human melanoma cells (Gibbons).


This research cluster is led by Professor Ganesan.