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Postgraduate Admissions

Dr Finian Leeper

From Bioactice Natural Products to Cancer Imaging

We are interested in biologically active natural products and how they are made in nature. We seek to elucidate their structure, determine how they are made, study the enzymes that catalyse the individual steps and find out if alternative substrates can be incorporated to give modified versions of the final product.

For cancer imaging we focus on the extracellular glycans, which are often over-expressed in cancer cells and are an indicator of invasiveness but the approach is similar: we feed the cells with modified sugars which get metabolically incorporated into the glycans. Then we follow-up with an imaging agent that reacts in a bio-orthogonal way with the incorporated modification.

We have also developed new bio-orthogonal reactions that allow the incorporation of two different sugars to be tracked simultaneously.


Imaging Glycosylation in vivo using Metabolic Labeling and MRI Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 1286.

Dissecting Bottromycin Biosynthesis Using Comparative Untargeted Metabolomics Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 9639.

Specificity and Promiscuity at the Branch Point in Gentamicin Biosynthesis Chem. & Biol. 2014, 21, 608.
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