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Professor Christopher Abell FRS FMedSci

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


Mass spectrometry for fragment screening
DS-H Chan, AJ Whitehouse, AG Coyne, C Abell
– Essays Biochem
Target Identification of
G Mugumbate, V Mendes, M Blaszczyk, M Sabbah, G Papadatos, J Lelievre, L Ballell, D Barros, C Abell, TL Blundell, JP Overington
– Front Pharmacol
Effect of DMSO on Protein Structure and Interactions Assessed by Collision-Induced Dissociation and Unfolding.
DS-H Chan, ME Kavanagh, KJ McLean, AW Munro, D Matak-Vinković, AG Coyne, C Abell
– Anal Chem
Bioinspired supramolecular fibers drawn from a multiphase self-assembled hydrogel.
Y Wu, DU Shah, C Liu, Z Yu, J Liu, X Ren, MJ Rowland, C Abell, MH Ramage, OA Scherman
– Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Tough Supramolecular Polymer Networks with Extreme Stretchability and Fast Room-Temperature Self-Healing
J Liu, CSY Tan, Z Yu, N Li, C Abell, OA Scherman
– Adv Mater
Fragment Screening against the EthR–DNA Interaction by Native Mass Spectrometry
DS-H Chan, V Mendes, SE Thomas, BN McConnell, D Matak-Vinković, AG Coyne, TL Blundell, C Abell
– Angew Chem Int Ed Engl
Fragment-Sized EthR Inhibitors Exhibit Exceptionally Strong Ethionamide Boosting Effect in Whole-Cell Mycobacterium tuberculosis Assays
PO Nikiforov, M Blaszczyk, S Surade, HI Boshoff, A Sajid, V Delorme, N Deboosere, P Brodin, AR Baulard, CE Barry, TL Blundell, C Abell
– ACS Chem Biol
The biochemical properties of the two Arabidopsis thaliana isochorismate synthases.
KM Macaulay, GA Heath, A Ciulli, AM Murphy, C Abell, JP Carr, AG Smith
– Biochem J
Structural insights into the EthR–DNA interaction using native mass spectrometry
D Shiu-Hin Chan, W-G Seetoh, BN McConnell, D Matak-Vinković, SE Thomas, V Mendes, M Blaszczyk, AG Coyne, TL Blundell, C Abell
– Chemical communications (Cambridge, England)
Biomimetic Supramolecular Polymer Networks Exhibiting both Toughness and Self-Recovery
J Liu, CSY Tan, Z Yu, Y Lan, C Abell, OA Scherman
– Adv Mater
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Research Group

Research Interest Group

Telephone number

01223 336405

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