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Professor Christopher Abell FRS FMedSci

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One of the biggest challenges in biological chemistry is the design of small molecules that interact selectively with macromolecules. We are pioneering the development of the use of fragments to address this challenge. This approach involves close synergistic interaction between synthetic organic chemistry, biophysics and structural biology. We are using fragment-based methods to identify inhibitors of enzymes from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and to develop small molecules that modulate protein-protein interactions. We are also keen to explore new applications for fragments e.g. to identify molecules that modulate the activity of riboswitches, and to assign function to orphan proteins.

Our second major area of research is to develop the use of microdroplets in microfluidics as a novel experimental platform for biological chemistry. This research is highly interdisciplinary and involves biological chemistry, microfluidics, nanofabrication, laser spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. We are particularly interested in looking at cells in droplets, e.g. bacteria to study quorum sensing, algae for bio-fuel development.


For a full list of publications, see


Inhibition of Ral GTPases Using a Stapled Peptide Approach.
JC Thomas, JM Cooper, NS Clayton, C Wang, MA White, C Abell, D Owen, HR Mott – J Biol Chem (2016) jbc.M116.720243
Selective small molecule inhibitor of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis fumarate hydratase reveals an allosteric regulatory site
M Kasbekar, G Fischer, BT Mott, A Yasgar, M Hyvönen, HI Boshoff, C Abell, CE Barry, CJ Thomas – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2016) 113, 7503
Spirooxindoles as novel 3D-fragment scaffolds: Synthesis and screening against CYP121 from M. tuberculosis.
HJ Davis, ME Kavanagh, T Balan, C Abell, AG Coyne – Bioorg Med Chem Lett (2016) 26, 3735
Small molecules, big targets: drug discovery faces the protein–protein interaction challenge
DE Scott, AR Bayly, C Abell, J Skidmore – Nat Rev Drug Discov (2016)
Mass Spectrometry Reveals Protein Kinase CK2 High-Order Oligomerization via the Circular and Linear Assembly.
WG Seetoh, DS Chan, D Matak-Vinković, C Abell – ACS Chem Biol (2016) 11, 1511
Microfluidic Droplet-Facilitated Hierarchical Assembly for Dual Cargo Loading and Synergistic Delivery
Z Yu, Y Zheng, RM Parker, Y Lan, Y Wu, RJ Coulston, J Zhang, OA Scherman, C Abell – ACS Appl Mater Interfaces (2016) 8, 8811
Fragment-Based Approaches to the Development of Mycobacterium tuberculosis CYP121 Inhibitors.
ME Kavanagh, AG Coyne, KJ McLean, GG James, CW Levy, LB Marino, LP de Carvalho, DS Chan, SA Hudson, S Surade, D Leys, AW Munro, C Abell – J Med Chem (2016) 59, 3272
Structure-activity relationship of the peptide binding-motif mediating the BRCA2:RAD51 protein-protein interaction
DE Scott, M Marsh, TL Blundell, C Abell, M Hyvönen – FEBS letters (2016) 590, 1094
Monitoring Early-Stage Nanoparticle Assembly in Microdroplets by Optical Spectroscopy and SERS
AR Salmon, R Esteban, RW Taylor, JT Hugall, CA Smith, G Whyte, OA Scherman, J Aizpurua, C Abell, JJ Baumberg – Small (2016) 12, 1788
A fragment merging approach towards the development of small molecule inhibitors of Mycobacterium tuberculosis EthR for use as ethionamide boosters.
PO Nikiforov, S Surade, M Blaszczyk, V Delorme, P Brodin, AR Baulard, TL Blundell, C Abell – Org Biomol Chem (2016) 14, 2318
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Research Group

Research Interest Group

Telephone number

01223 336405

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