1. Synthesis of Bioactive Natural Products
Our research focus is concerned with the development of new methods and strategies for the practical synthesis of bioactive natural products. The targets we select represent an exciting range of secondary metabolites that display startling bioactivity in preliminary biological screening, but due to their scarcity, require practical synthetic routes to enable structure determination and allow further biological evaluation of their properties in the quest for new therapeutic agents, while providing platforms for the development of new synthetic methodology. For example, we have recently completed the synthesis and structural assignment of the Annonaceous acetogenin chamuvarinin, a potent cytotoxic agent which contains a unique tricyclic THP-bis-THF ring system with undefined stereochemical arrays. Palmerolide A and C are highly potent and selective cytotoxic marine macrolides, available in trace amounts from an Antarctic tunicate. These target compounds also provide the opportunity to generate novel structural analogues in order to probe the features responsible for their biological activity and mode of action, which in turn can aid future pharmaceutical design.
2. Novel Biomaterials for Medical Applications
As part of a collaborative project with Prof Sir Alfred Cuschieri (IMSAT, Dundee) and Dr Pascal Andre (St Andrews) we are preparing a unique range of hybrid biomaterials for application in minimal access surgery.
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