Biological Chemistry

Our research activities lead to improvements in human health

  • Provides a better understanding of pathogenesis of disease
  • Informs the design and development of new treatments and diagnostics
  • Promotes the development of models to i) understand disease pathogenesis & ii) assess efficacy and toxicity of new treatments/diagnostics
  • Informs the safe regulation of chemicals, pollutants and pharmaceuticals

Key areas of research include:

Super-resolution microscopy

IB3 is the lead host of the Edinburgh Super-Resolution Imaging Consortium (ESRIC) which is an open access advanced imaging facility with expertise in super-resolution and advanced high speed imaging with free training and support in analysis and experimental design. Using these facilities, research within IB3 investigates a range of biology including vesicle dynamics.

Key contacts : Rory Duncan and Colin Rickman

Alternatives to Animal Testing

There is a large need to follow the 3 R's - Replacement, Refinement and Reduction - of animals in research and researchers are investigating the use of in vitro and zebrafish models for nano-particle toxicity analysis.

Key contact : Helinor Johnston

3D bioprinting

Researchers within IB3 are using 3D bioprinters to produce 3D in vitro models of cancer to better understand how cancer cells interact with their surroundings as well as developing new support gels into which cells can be printed and grown.

Key contacts : Nick Leslie and Ferry Melches

3D in vitro models for nanotoxicology

Nanotoxicology investigates the hazardous effects of nanoparticles, whcih can become dangerous to living things not only because of their chemical properties, but also because of their size or shape. This results in a large array of toxicology tests to be carried out which is impractical for animal studies and so new in vitro model systems of the intestine, lung and liver are being developed and tested.

Key contacts : Vicki Stone, David Brown and Helinor Johnston

Antibody alternatives

Antibody labelling is a widely used technique for identifying and visualising proteins within cells by using elements of the immune system to bind to the protein of interest. Traditional antibodies are large molecules which when combined with super-resolution microscopy, can lead to artefacts. Novel antibody alternatives are being developed which are optimised for super-resolution microscopy.

Key contact : Colin Rickman

Drug discovery for cardiovascular disease

We are interested in understanding the anti inflammatory mechanisms linked to diseases like atherosclerosis. We use a multidisciplinary approach including developing small molecule inhibitors of inflammation that we hope one day will be incorporated into stents.

Key contact : Stephen Yarwood

Alternatives and Adjunts to Antibiotics

The emergence of antibiotic resistance is a huge threat to public health and research is underway to improve the discovery and understanding of drug treatments by making 'lab conditions' more physiologically relevant to gain a more accuarate measure the drug's effectiveness, as well as searching for resistance breakers - drugs which could synergise with antibiotics to become more effective.

Key contact : David Smith

Non-invasive diagnosis and monitoring of cataracts

The spectra response of lens proteins can change depending on the post-translational modifications they undergo associated with the onset of cataracts. By using advanced fluorescence detection, the onset and development of cataracts can be monitored by illuminating the eye and measuring the light coming back.

Key contacts : Nicola Howarth, Rory Duncan and Colin Rickman

Understanding the effectiveness of facemasks against air pollution

The effectiveness of a facemask to protect the user against air pollution can be undermined by poor design and incorrect usage. By studying facemasks in more 'real-world' conditions, the true effectiveness can be established and recommendations made on how they may function in general use.

Key contact : John Cherrie

Neurological Diseases

By using baker's yeast as a model organism it is possible to investigate the control of coordination of primary metabolism and singalling pathways to study neurological diseases such as Arts sndrome and Charcot-Marie Tooth disease.

Key contact : Michael Schweizer