Gibson Group News
Prof. Gibson interviewed in FutureScience OA
Whilst attending the World Biotechnology Congress in May this year, Prof Gibson was interviewed for FutureScience OA, ragarding the groups work in infection, cryopreservation and science in general.
Read the interview here
Dan Phillips wins Faculty Thesis Prize
Dr Daniel Phillips, who did his Mchem and PhD in the group has won the Departmental Thesis prize for 2015. His Thesis was entitled 'Biochemically Adaptive Materials based on (iso)Thermally Responsive Materials'. This dealt with the design of polymers which could respond (e.g signal generation or cell uptake) upon changes in biochemical environments including redox, enzymes or temperature.
This is the second year in a row where a group member has won this prize (Robert Deller Previously), keeping up our tradition of great science that people want to read!
Well done Dan!
Ben and Lewis win Presentation Prizes
Ben and Lewis in the group won prizes for their presentations at the Annual Chemistry Postgraduate Symposium. Ben won the 2nd place prize in the Chemical Biology Session and Lewis 1st Prize in the Materials Session. Very well deserved for some excellent science!
Paper Published in The Analyst
Our latest work on exploiting carbohydrate interactions in diagnostics has been published in the RSC Journal The Analyst. We are very interested in expoiting carbohydrate (Glycan)-Protein interactions in the context of infectioud disease. For example, the symptons of Cholera poisoning (a global health issue) are caused by a carbohydrate binding protein (the Cholera Toxin). By creating nanostructures with the sugar on them, we hope to be able to detect disease at an early stage to inform clinicians and also enable appropriate use of a rapidly declining suite of antimicrobial agents. However, glycans are very promiscuous and not suited to sensors.
To overcome this we use multiplexing; essentially looking at multiple binding events, rather than 1, and generate a 'barcode' specific to the protein/pathogen. In this paper we extend this methodology to colour-changing gold nanoparticles to extract not only identification information but also concentration; a real challenge. The lead author on this paper was Dr Sarah-Jane Richards in the Group and also featured a masters research student (Denise)
Paper Published in Biomaterials Science
Our latest work on the use of polymeric ice recrystalisation inhibitors (IRIs) has been published in RSC Biomaterials Science. We have developed a series of polymers which mimic the function of antifreeze proteins, which are found in many species to enable them to survive freezing/sub zero temperatures. In this work we sought to build on our previous observations on enhancing red blood cell cryopreservation to 'harder' nucleated cell types (here and here). Typically these cells require the addition of organic solvents (DMSO) as cryoprotectants to enable them to be stored in the freezer but these can inhibit cell function, profileration and can be cytotoxic. Use several 'immortalized' (types widely used in research labs) cell lines we were able to enhance DMSO mediated cryopreservation by addition of the polymers. To really push this method, we also used primary (i.e freshly harvested) hepatocytes and found enhanced recovery.
The ability to bank cells is crucial for regnerative medicine to become a clinical reality and improved cell storage would be useful in reserach labs too. This work was a collaboration with Warwick Medical School (Dan Mitchell, Manu Vatish) and Einstein College of Medicine (Jeff Pesin).
Matt Promoted to Full Professor
Matt has been promoted to a personal chair (full professor) joint between Chemisry and Warwick Medical School. This is recognition of hard work of all team members over past 6 years!
Supramolecular Antifreeze Published
Our latest work on developing 'smart' materials has been published in RSC Polymer Chemistry. We are very interested in antifreeze protein mimetics - polymers which can slow the rate of ice growth (know as Ice recrystalisation inhibition - IRI) which have huge potential in cryopreservation of donor cells/tissue. An underlying challenge with these materials is understanding why they work. As part of our major reserach program to investigate this, we have developed polymers with essentially zero IRI activivty - but when we apply Fe 3+ ions, the polymers activity is activated. This was acheived by installation of a catechol group at the chain end (using RAFT polymerization) which promotes the formation of star-shaped polymers are higher molecular weight, triggering activity. We believe this, or similar, tools will enable us to gain more detailed understanding of the underlying mechanisms of action. This is also an analogy to how Nature works; if more protein is needed, Arctic fish up-regulate the protein synthesis. We cannot do this in chemistry, so really on the supramolecular trigger.
Cryopreservtion Published in Angewandte Chemie
Our latest work on new cryopreservation methods has been featured in the leading chemistry journal, Angewandte Chemie.
Donated cells and tissue are crucial for regenerative medicine but there is a core challenge in that the cells have short life times necessitating freezing. Current methods of cryopreservation require the addition of large amounts of organic solvent, which is non ideal and can lead to processing/toxicity challenges. In our latest paper, in collaboration with Steve Armes at Sheffield, we use self-assembled polymer micelles to provide a hydrated matrix around red blood cells. Alone, these offer little protection, but in combination with ice-growth inhibiting polymers (pionneered in our group) we get remarkable levels of recovery. Furthermore, post thawing, the micelles become worm-like and form a hydrogel. This provides a new method for direct, post-thaw 3-D tissue culture and will have many applications
Read the paper here
Combining Biomimetic Block Copolymer Worms with an Ice-Inhibiting Polymer for the Solvent-Free Cryopreservation of Red Blood Cells
Highlighted as a 'hot' paper by the journal and also a press released issued