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Professor Christopher Abell 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


Surface-stress sensors for rapid and ultrasensitive detection of active free drugs in human serum
JW Ndieyira, N Kappeler, S Logan, MA Cooper, C Abell, RA McKendry, G Aeppli – Nat Nanotechnol (2014) 9, 225
Targeting a c-MYC G-quadruplex DNA with a fragment library
HR Nasiri, NM Bell, KI McLuckie, J Husby, C Abell, S Neidle, S Balasubramanian – Chemical communications (Cambridge, England) (2014) 50, 1704
Biofragments: an approach towards predicting protein function using biologically related fragments and its application to Mycobacterium tuberculosis CYP126.
SA Hudson, EH Mashalidis, A Bender, KJ McLean, AW Munro, C Abell – Chembiochem (2014) 15, 549
Real time dual-channel multiplex SERS ultradetection
S Abalde-Cela, C Abell, RA Alvarez-Puebla, LM Liz-Marzán – Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters (2014) 5, 73
Targeting low-druggability bromodomains: Fragment based screening and inhibitor design against the BAZ2B bromodomain
FM Ferguson, O Fedorov, A Chaikuad, M Philpott, JR Muniz, I Felletar, F von Delft, T Heightman, S Knapp, C Abell, A Ciulli – J Med Chem (2013) 56, 10183
A structure-guided fragment-based approach for the discovery of allosteric inhibitors targeting the lipophilic binding site of transcription factor EthR.
S Surade, N Ty, N Hengrung, B Lechartier, ST Cole, C Abell, TL Blundell – Biochem J (2014) 458, 387
A three-stage biophysical screening cascade for fragment-based drug discovery.
EH Mashalidis, P Śledź, S Lang, C Abell – Nature protocols (2013) 8, 2309
MicroRNA-specific argonaute 2 protein inhibitors.
MF Schmidt, O Korb, C Abell – ACS Chem Biol (2013) 8, 2122
Integrated biophysical approach to fragment screening and validation for fragment-based lead discovery
HL Silvestre, TL Blundell, C Abell, A Ciulli – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2013) 110, 12984
Ultrarapid generation of femtoliter microfluidic droplets for single-molecule-counting immunoassays.
JU Shim, RT Ranasinghe, CA Smith, SM Ibrahim, F Hollfelder, WT Huck, D Klenerman, C Abell – ACS Nano (2013) 7, 5955
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Research Group

Research Interest Group

Telephone number

01223 336405

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