Novel compounds designed and made by Chemistry@brighton researchers in the news

 

Stilbene synthesisportrait of Dr Lizzy OstlerMany students on the Chemistry and Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences courses at Brighton will already be familiar with the exciting world of small molecule therapies designed to slow ageing –through Dr Ostler’s (in)famous CH210 group consultancy report.  The joys and difficulties of sorting anecdotal life extensionist optimisim from genuine scientific discoveries brought to life in this second year assessment gained a new twist this week.

 

portrait of Professor Richard FaragherExciting new research conducted in a collaboration between Dr Ostler, Professor Faragher (also at the University of Brighton) and Prof Lorna Harries at Exeter University was recently published in BMC Cell Biology.

The discovery showed that novel small molecule analogues of the stilbene resveratrol (found naturally in red wine and chocolate) could “rejuvenate” senescent cells.  The treated cells began to grow again and took on many features of “young” cells.  The team also showed that this was because of changes in RNA splicing factors, the cellular machinery that allows cells to make many different kinds of protein from a single DNA sequence.  The ability to use small molecules to intervene in this previously unexplored mechanism provides new possibilities for the development of anti-degenerative compounds that could allow people to remain heathier well into old age.

Earlier this week the mainstream press became interested in these discoveries, leading to some great headlines including the Sun’s “Wine’s end of the lines, Red wine and chocolate are secret to beating wrinkles, study says” and the Daily Mail’s “Chocolate and red wine ‘are the secret to beating wrinkles’: Scientists find both help rejuvenate old cells as well as the less dramatic “Reversing Aging: Scientists Make Old Human Cells Look And Act Younger in Breakthrough Discovery” from Newsweek and “Breakthrough: Scientists reverse aging in human cells” from Medical News Today.  Our thoughts on the subject will be appearing soon in The Conversation.

All of this was made possible by chemistry and biology researchers working together – something we prize in our undergraduate degrees and that is reflected in our multidisciplinary School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences.  Whatever your conclusions about red wine and chocolate, it is clear that our researchers and students will keep generating much food for thought!

Latest article publications from chemistry staff – October

Update of publications from our chemistry staff and research students

New for 2017/18 a monthly round-up of publications from staff and students in the chemistry area here at Brighton. Suscribe to the blog and get regular updates on what we are doing here at brighton

Dr Ostler and Dr Vishal Birar (ex-PhD student) are co-authors on the open access article “Small molecule modulation of splicing factor expression is associated with rescue from cellular senescence” in BMC Cell Biology.

Dr Cragg, Dr Willows, Dr Patel, Dr Kothur (ex-PhD student) and Ms Kamenica (MPhil student) have authored an open access article “Lithium ion sensors” in the journal Sensors

ACS Editor’s Choice for Brighton’s chemistry research

ACS Editor’s Choice for recently published Chemistry Research;

Recent work by Dr Marcus Dymond (Division of Chemistry, PABS) and Prof. George Attard (University of Southampton) with collaborators at the MAX IV synchrotron/ University of Lund, SE has been selected as a prestigious American Chemical Society Editor’s Choice article.

The ACS is the world’s largest scientific society, which publishes 51 research journals across the chemical sciences. Each year the ACS chooses 365 articles (one per day) from across its many journals to make open access as part of the ACS Editor’s Choice program. On the 29th of October 2017 new research by Dr Dymond and colleagues was chosen.

The paper, published in ACS Langmuir, looks at the membrane disrupting properties of aliphatic aldehydes. Aliphatic aldehydes are a class of chemicals that are used by algae as part of a defence mechanism however aliphatic aldehydes have also been implicated in a range of health related problems and disease mechanisms in humans. Notably aliphatic aldehydes are produced in cells as a response to reactive oxygen species (oxidative stress) interacting with lipids and there is an increasing body of evidence linking oxidative stress to global health challenges such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and many other health conditions. Aliphatic aldehydes are also produced when some fats are heated to high temperatures for frying food, raising concerns about their incorporation in the human diet.

The researchers used X-ray diffraction facilities available at the MAX IV synchrotron SE to show that aliphatic aldehydes destabilise the flat structures formed by some of the most prominent lipids found in cell membranes. Typically cells contain large numbers of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine lipids, which form flat lipid bilayer membrane structures that contain protein. The most widely known example is the plasma membrane, which encapsulates the cell and allows it to control chemical conditions inside its interior. However lipid bilayers are like microscopic springs that store elastic energy and it is thought that by controlling the composition of their membranes cells can regulate the elastic stress stored within. This enables cells to regulate the function of some proteins, which respond to elastic stresses in the membrane.

In the particular case of aliphatic aldehydes the researchers found that as the concentration of these molecules increases the lipid mixtures form curved aggregates, which cannot form flat bilayers. These results strongly suggest that aliphatic aldehydes cause high levels of elastic stress in membranes. It is already known that high elastic stress can disrupt the activity of membrane bound proteins and the research suggests that the negative health effects of aliphatic aldehydes might be linked to this property as summarised in Fig 1.

summer research

A thiolated co-pillar[5]arene was attached to the surface of a gold electrode and shown to give an analyte-selective voltammetric response to linear biogenic amines.

The summer is all about getting into the lab and writing up research for our academics here at Brighton. This summer has seen the publication of two new papers in inorganic chemistry. published in Chemistry Communications, the Royal Society of Chemistry‘s rapid communications journal. This is the sixth paper from Raghu Kothur’s PhD work, supervised by Dr Peter Cragg and Dr Bhavik Patel.

A co-pillar[5]arene sensor for linear biogenic amines, Raghuram Reddy Kothur, Bhavik Anil Patel and Peter J. Cragg, Chem. Commun., 2017, 53, 9078-9080

The hydrophobically driven inclusion complexation of the Chemical Warfare Agent (CWA) pinacolyl methylphosphonofluoridate (soman, or GD) by β-cyclodextrin (β-CD) is studied both experimentally and computationally

Also from Dr Peter Cragg is another new paper published in RSC Advances. Experimental and computational study of the inclusion complexes of β-cyclodextrin with the chemical warfare agent soman (GD) and commonly used simulants, Mark R. Sambrook, Jack C. Vincent, Jayne A. Ede, Ian A. Gass and Peter J. Cragg, RSC Adv., 2017, 7, 38069-38076