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Novel enzyme inhibitors for chemical biology and drug discovery


School of Pharmacy

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Prof G Wagner No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Glycosylation is the most common posttranslational modification of proteins. Central to this process is a family of enzymes called glycosyltransferases, Nature’s glycosylation reagents. Redirecting protein glycosylation with small molecular glycosyltransferase inhibitors is an attractive and powerful approach with many potential applications, from bioengineering of therapeutic antibodies to antibacterial drug discovery.

The Wagner group has a long-standing track record in glycosyltransferase inhibitor development, including the discovery of a novel class of allosteric inhibitors (Nat Chem Biol 2010; J Med Chem 2012, J Biol Chem 2013, J Biol Chem 2015), and drug-like covalent inhibitors (Bioorg Med Chem 2017, Bioorg Med Chem 2018).

Building on this previous work, you will in this project apply the latest inhibitor design concepts in medicinal chemistry to develop novel glycosyltransferase inhibitors with suitable properties for applications in cell culture and whole organisms. You will also evaluate your inhibitor candidates in biochemical assays and, in collaboration with internal and external partners, advanced biological systems, e.g., for antibody engineering and antibacterial drug discovery.

The project will provide extensive multidisciplinary training at the chemistry/biology interface and is ideally suited for a student with a strong background in organic synthesis, who wants to significantly expand their experimental skill set.

Funding Notes

Applicants should have a 1st or 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Relevant subjects include Chemistry, Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biochemistry, Biological/Biomedical Sciences, Engineering, or a closely related discipline. Students who have a 2.2 honours degree and a Masters degree may also be considered.

Important, applicants must fulfil the eligibility criteria set out by the Department for the Economy which can be found at this link: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/department-economy-studentships
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