May is project month for chemistry@brighton students in their 3rd and 4th years. Third year students hand their projects in just after Easter for binding and marking before their vivas next week. The MChem fourth years have submitted their scientific articles and are busy printing posters ready for their assessment day of vivas and poster session. Both third and fourth year projects here are full research tasks, and we often publish scientific papers with undergraduates as co-authors. It really sets them up for further research and improves their project management skills. These were some third years submitting a day early, great organisation skills guys! They don’t look too bleary eyed!
Many 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.
Exciting 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!
Professor Richard Faragher, Professor of Biogerontology here at University of Brighton and based in our School, will be debating whether science should be able to help us live forever (or longer at least). The debate will be streamed live tomorrow, Tuesday 7th November at 7pm (UK time) from the Universty of Santiago de Compostela. It promises to be an entertaining and informative discussion covering everything from the science of ageing to the ethics and social implications surrounding it. You can tune in to the debate live at the Regueifas de Ciencia ’17 website here you can also find out more about the debate itself.
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.
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.
A co-pillararene sensor for linear biogenic amines, Raghuram Reddy Kothur, Bhavik Anil Patel and Peter J. Cragg, Chem. Commun., 2017, 53, 9078-9080
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
Dr Dmitriy Berillo, a Marie Curie Research Fellow in our department, has been awarded the prize for best presentation at the 19th International Conference on Environment, Water and Wetlands for his outstanding work on the biodegradation of chlorophenol derivatives using macroporous material.
The petrochemical industry, textiles, leather production, domestic preservatives, and petrochemicals are the main sources of exposure of phenol derivatives and chlorophenols(CPs) into the environment. The International Agency for Research on Cancers categorized CPs as potential human carcinogens and they are very hazardous to the environment and animals. The aim of Dmitriy’s work is to develop a bioremediation system for phenol derivatives & CPs based on macroporous materials, which we believe can be efficiently used for wastewater treatment.
At the Chemistry Journal Club this week, Luke Damerum (MRes Student) will be delivering a presentation “Cyclic Peptides“.
The Chemistry Journal Club will be meeting on Friday 19th May from 1-2pm in H400/1. Everybody welcome to attend
Look forward to seeing you there.
Dr Steve Meikle
At the Chemistry Journal Club tomorrow I will be giving an overview of “3D Printing of Microfluidic Devices : Current Approaches and Future Perspectives“, based on Bhattacharjee et al. Lab Chip, 2016, 16, 1720 DOI: 10.1039/c6lc00163g and Waheed et al. Lab Chip, 2016, 16, 1993 DOI: 10.1039/c6lc00284f
The Chemistry Journal Club will be meeting at 1-2pm tomorrow in H400/1. Everybody is welcome to attend
Hope to see you there,
Dr Steve Meikle
At the Chemistry Journal Club tomorrow MRes student Viktoriia Prus will give a presentation entitled “Biosorbents as a promising tool for heavy metal removal from water”
The Chemistry Journal Club will be meeting in H400/1 from 1-2pm. All welcome to attend
Hope to see you there,
Dr Steve Meikle