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Professor Christopher Abell FRS FMedSci

Portrait of ca26

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


Microcapsule Buckling Triggered by Compression-Induced Interfacial Phase Change
AR Salmon, RM Parker, AS Groombridge, A Maestro, RJ Coulston, J Hegemann, J Kierfeld, OA Scherman, C Abell
– Langmuir
Label-Free Analysis and Sorting of Microalgae and Cyanobacteria in Microdroplets by Intrinsic Chlorophyll Fluorescence for the Identification of Fast Growing Strains.
RJ Best, JJ Lyczakowski, S Abalde-Cela, Z Yu, C Abell, AG Smith
– Anal Chem
Dual-responsive supramolecular colloidal microcapsules from cucurbit[8]uril molecular recognition in microfluidic droplets
Z Yu, Y Lan, RM Parker, W Zhang, X Deng, OA Scherman, C Abell
– Polymer Chemistry
Hierarchical Self-Assembly of Cellulose Nanocrystals in a Confined Geometry.
RM Parker, B Frka-Petesic, G Guidetti, G Kamita, G Consani, C Abell, S Vignolini
– ACS Nano
Substrate Fragmentation for the Design of M. tuberculosis CYP121 Inhibitors.
ME Kavanagh, JL Gray, SH Gilbert, AG Coyne, KJ McLean, HJ Davis, AW Munro, C Abell
– ChemMedChem
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
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, HIM Boshoff, C Abell, CE Barry, CJ Thomas
– Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
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
ATP half-sites in RadA and RAD51 recombinases bind nucleotides
ME Marsh, DE Scott, MT Ehebauer, C Abell, TL Blundell, M Hyvönen
– FEBS Open Bio
Small molecules, big targets: drug discovery faces the protein-protein interaction challenge
DE Scott, AR Bayly, C Abell, J Skidmore
– Nat Rev Drug Discov
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Research Group

Research Interest Group

Telephone number

01223 336405

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