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Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry Project: Total Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of the natural product JBIR-23 and its potential activity against the asbestos induced lung cancer mesothelioma

   Department of Chemistry

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  Prof Adrian Dobbs  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The Project:

Mesothelioma is a rare and fatal lung cancer, always associated with asbestos exposure. There is no current cure for mesothelioma and there are no reliable early detection methods. It has a long latency period of 15-50 years from exposure to the onset of symptoms. Furthermore, it is resistant to all conventional therapies, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery and the prognosis for patients remains very poor. Thus the development of new therapeutic agents is crucial. Many drugs on the market – for any symptom – have their origins in a natural product. Unfortunately there are no novel drugs in development specifically targeting mesothelioma. The principle reason for this was that until recently, there were no reported natural products to serve as a lead compound – a starting point for the drug discovery process.

This changed in 2009, with the report of JBIR-23 and -24, two microbial metabolites isolated from Streptomyces sp. AK-AB27: the first natural products specifically to demonstrate cytotoxicity against four MPM cell lines, with modest IC50 values (Org. Lett., 2009, 11, 285).

The overall aims of the project are i) to synthesise JBIR-23; ii) confirm its structure; iii) prepare a library of analogues of JBIR-23; iv) conduct extensive biological studies on these compounds.

For full project details, please contact Professor Dobbs directly.

The candidate:

We are looking for a well organised, self motivated and inquisitive applicant for this role, and an excellent First or Upper Second class degree in chemistry. In return, we will provide an exciting project combining synthetic chemistry and molecular biology. The project will be supervised by Professor Adrian Dobbs and the biological studies conducted both internally and in in collaboration with Bart's Cancer Institute, London and MesoBank.

Research Environment:

The successfully candidate will join a highly active research group of postdocs and PhD students in newly refurbished synthetic chemistry research labs at the University of Surrey. The School of Chemistry & Chemical Engineering is extremely well equipped with analytical equipment.


The student will receive training in synthetic organic chemistry and molecular biology and is a truly interdisciplinary project. Transferable skills, such as reporting of results orally and in writing, time management, project planning and management will be developed through university courses, Group meetings and conference attendance/presentations.

You will also be expected to take part in the Faculty and University PhD training programmes and there is the opportunity to undertake some (paid) teaching.

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