Group COVID detection research featured in University research impact video
Our work, to develop a new approach for SARS-COV-2 (virus which causes COVID-19), and other pathogens, has been featured in a University feature on impactful research. For the past year many member of our group changed their research focus to help develop an understanding of how this virus binds glycans (sugars) which gives insight into its infectivity, but also provides an opportunity for new diagnostics. We will be releasing more news on this exciting project soon.
Post-doc Vacancy to Join the Group!!!
We have a vacancy for a post-doc to be based in our labs in the medical school. The candidate will join our team working on the cryopreservation of complex cell models including 2 and 3D monolayers and exploring their use in toxicology screening.
GibsonGroup Spin-out Company, Cryologyx, Secures Additional Investment
Our Spin-out Company, Cryologyx, has secured additional investment and closed its first investment round. This goes alongside a large grant from Innovate UK. Cryologyx is a biotechnology company aiming to bring new cryopreserved products, and underpinning technologies, to market and is led by former PhD and PDRA Dr Tom Congdon.
Atomistic details of how PVA engages with ice published
Our latest collaborative work lead by the Sosso Group has been published in Nature Communications. We have a long standing interesting in how synthetic polymers can be used to control ice crystal growth. Even after several years of study, the most active polymer for ice recrystallisation inhibition (IRI) is still PVA (poly(vinyl alcohol)) and exactly how it is so effective was not clear. In recent years it has become clear the PVA hydrogen bonds to ice, and previous studies suggest it can form a 'ladder' like lattice match onto the ice. In this work, atomistic simulations were ran which show that the size of the PVA coil (as polymers are not fully stretched our molecules - 'cooked not raw spaghetti') was a crucial descriptor of activity. It was seen that short PVA chains (which have less IRI activity) actually bind the ice as well as longer PVA chains (which are more active) but they cannot stop ice overgrowing it so well. These results will help us design new more active materials whilst adding to our fundamental understanding of these interfaces.
Read the paper here
Chemotherapeutic polymers using 'covalent targetting' is published!
It is well known that cationic polymers can disrupt cell membranes, most famously for disrupting bacterial membranes which are 'more anionic' than mammalian. However, these polymers can be used to kill cancerous cells, but avoiding non-specific toxicity to healthy cells and blood cells is a major problem. Most work in this field involves making minor changes through co-polymerization in the hope of making the polymers more specific. In this work, we instead engineered the cancer cells to 'capture' the polymer. We used metabolic oligosaccharide engineering to install azide groups selectivity on cancer cells, or cancer spheroids, and using alkyne polymers we could 'guide them' to the cells. This lead to increased toxicity and hence a wider therapeutic window. We showed this with several cell line and spheroids and also showed the covalent targetting induced additional mechanisms of cell death.
Read the paper here in Chemical Science
CryoLogyx spun out to translate our research to industry
The new company Cryologyx has been formed, supported by a grant from InnovateUK. Cryologyx will use technology developed in our laboratories to transform how cells are frozen, and distributed. The company will be led by (soon to be former) postdoc Dr Tom Congdon, who will be CEO. Keep watching for more updates!
Welcome to new group member, Ola
Ola Alkosti has joined the group as a PhD student. She will be working on cell-surface labelling technologies, seeking to covalently modify cell surfaces to introduce new functionality, as an alternative to genetic techniques.
Welcome to new group member, Qiao
Qiao Tang has joined the group as a PhD student in January, on a prestigious Chancellors International Scholarship. Qiao's research will explore the biomedical application, glycan metabolic labelling and its use to capture synthetic nanomaterials and polymers.