Drug discovery, design and synthesis (DDDS)

Basic to clinical research developing new and improved therapies and diagnostics toward health and welfare benefits.

Areas of activity

Our research expertise is encompassed within the following areas of activity:

  • SAR and lead optimisation
  • Candidate design
  • Hit identification against validated targets
  • Synthetic and analytical chemistry
  • Bioassays
  • Molecular modeling

Research interests/expertise

  • Computer-aided drug design and the development of molecular modelling software.
  • Anti-cancer drug design in a variety of tumour types (e.g. breast, pancreatic, gynaecological, prostate) with strategies including nucleotide prodrugs (“Protides”), anti-tubulin agents, enyzme inhibitors (e.g. CYP450s, oestrone sulphatase), inhibitors to peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), apoptosis modifiers, inhibitors of Protein-Protein intreractions, E3 ubiquitin ligases.
  • Anti-microbial drug design including anti-viral nucleotide prodrugs (HIV, measles, influenza, hepatitis C) anti-mycobacterials (nucleoside mimetics, CYP450s).
  • New anti-cancer and anti-microbial agents from natural products.
  • Diagnostic imaging (Positron Emission Tomography) agents in oncology and neurosciences.

Academic staff

Researchers in the theme have extensive international and national engagement with external stakeholders.

Academic staffResearch interests
Dr Andrea BrancaleComputer-aided design and synthesis of novel antiviral agents. Design and optimisation of novel anti-tubulin agents. Molecular modeling software development.
Dr Youcef MehellouDiscovery of small molecule modulators of cell signalling cascades. Particular interest is in targeting phospho-mediated protein-protein interactions that are relevant to human health. Current focus is on the discovery of small molecules with potential to treat cancer, hepatitis B, hypertension, stroke and Parkinson’s disease.
Dr Claire SimonsCellular differentiation and proliferation - targeting specific enzymes (CYP24 and CYP26) and receptors (PPAR) directed towards the development of therapeutics for the treatment of diseases associated with hyperproliferation. Steroidogenesis - targeting enzymes associated with oestrogen production (primarily CYP19/aromatase) for the development of therapeutic agents for the treatment of hormone dependent breast cancer. Antiinfectives - covering antibacterial (including antimycobacterial) and antiviral agents.
Dr Andrew WestwellBreast cancer drug design and discovery, selective apoptosis induction in cancer cells, protein-protein interactions as cancer drug targets, E3 ubiquitin ligases as therapeutic targets in cancer, diagnostic imaging (Positron Emission Tomography) in oncology and neuroscience, characterisation of novel psychoactive substances, in conjunction with Public Heath Wales and Llandough Hospital Cardiff.
Dr Alex WhiteMajor interests concern the design and synthesis of novel anti-cancer agents. This involves synthetic organic chemistry, molecular modelling, purification methods and spectroscopy, particularly high field NMR, and close collaboration with biochemists. Particularly of interest is the development of natural product lead compounds as clinically useful chemotherapeutic agents.