Carbohydrates are central to human and animal health. They are instrumental to the maintenance of a productive immune system; sugar conjugation to drugs impacts solubility, distribution and uptake in the body, and ultimately excess drug excretion; sugars in a mothers’ milk help protect infants from infection. In the plant world, many of the phytonutrients that we rely on in our diet are sugar-containing, as are many antibiotics from the microbial world. Many of these sugar-containing molecules are difficult and expensive to obtain from nature in pure form: even then, quantities are extremely limited. Likewise the chemistry required to attach sugars to drugs is impacted by cost, complexity and sustainability.
The goal of this PhD is to develop a modular plug-and-play system that enables ‘any sugar’ to be attached to ‘any molecule’, with the aid of carbohydrate-active enzymes and with a view to enabling bioactive glycoconjugate synthesis (including therapeutics). For this to be practical and scalable, the enzymes will be individually immobilised in bioreactors that can be connected in series to perform the necessary transfer reactions, while minimising manual intervention.
The project will combine aspects of modern synthetic carbohydrate chemistry, enzymatic synthesis, and flow technologies, harnessing the expertise of the academic team, to ensure a high standard of training and outcome. The research will be undertaken at Keele University and involves a collaboration with Iceni Glycoscience (https://www.iceniglycoscience.com/), based in Norwich. You will receive training in modern organic synthesis, carbohydrate chemistry, molecular biology and microbiology, and flow chemistry, all geared towards the design and development of routes to deliver the required glycosylated bioactive targets. Transferable skills such as reporting of results orally and in writing, time management, project planning and management will also be developed. Finally, alongside this multidisciplinary training an industrial placement at Iceni is integrated into the 4-year training period.
Eligibility criteria: Applicants should have, or expect to have a 2(1) honours degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry. Any experience in synthetic organic chemistry/biocatalysis is a plus.
Informal enquiries about the project to either Professor Gavin Miller [Email Address Removed] or Dr Sebastian Cosgrove [Email Address Removed] and must include a CV.
Please include in your formal application a CV and covering letter (maximum 1 page) citing your motivation for this project.
Please submit a formal application via the "Apply" button on https://www.keele.ac.uk/study/postgraduateresearch/studentships/biocataysisandorganicchemistry/. Please ensure you quote FNS_Iceni_2024 on your application.
For the full details of this studentship please go to https://www.keele.ac.uk/study/postgraduateresearch/studentships/biocataysisandorganicchemistry/