Hannah and Joe attend COST Meetings in Romania and Greece

Hannah attended the International Meeting of Young Researchers hosted by InnoGly and GlycoNanoProbes COST Actions in Iasi, Romania in April and presented a talk on Carbohydrate-Functionalised Materials. Joe was part of the organising committee for this meeting, as well.

A few weeks later, in May, Joe spoke at the Closing Meeting of the InnoGly COST Action in Heraklion, Greece, a two-day interdisciplinary symposium of carbohydrate and glycan research, particularly focussed on the role of glycans in health and immunity. His presentation on carbohydrate-functionalised metal complexes prompted some interesting discussions with scientist from other disciplines.

Karolina visits Kavanagh Lab, Maynooth

Karol set up a collaboration with Prof Kevin Kavanagh in Maynooth to investigate the effects of carbohydrate-functionalised metal complexes on Candida albicans. She spent 10 days working in the Kavanagh lab recently, carrying out her own biological assays and collecting some very promising results of the impact on yeast cells. There will be further updates about this in the future!

Christmas lunch!

We brought the year to a close with a Christmas group lunch in Hyde, Galway. We also celebrated the completion of the fourth year undergraduate research projects. Shivon Karundu, who carried out her project in our lab celebrated with classmates at the research poster session in the School. Well done on a productive year!

RSC Carbohydrate Meeting in Belfast and first SugarCoat Team Meeting

Members of the team attended the RSC Carbohydrate Interest Group Annual Meeting at Queens University Belfast. Joe gave an oral presentation in the Great Hall. There were many interesting international speakers including Alexander Titz and Ulf Nilssen, as well as contributors from the UK and Ireland. The event was co-sponsored by the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland also (Division on Medicinal Chemistry), making it an excellent all-island event. Thanks to Gerd Wagner and Aisling Ní Cheallaigh, among others, for organising.

This meeting also gave an opportunity for the first in-person meeting of the full team of the SugarCoat North South Research Programme project – funded by the Shared Island Fund and the HEA. Postdoc Dr Hannah Crory has been working in the Wylie/McCoy lab in the School of Pharmacy, QUB.

Team present at three international conferences

In a busy summer, Joe presented his work in talks at the Molecular Sensors and Logic Gates Meeting (Dublin) and European Biological Inorganic Chemistry Symposium (Grenoble), while Karolina gave an oral presentation at the International Carbohydrate Symposium. Through these presentations, the team have been able to share their latest results from the SFI-funded project with various audiences and field questions and suggestions. Our interdisciplinary work involves using carbohydrate-functionalised metal complexes to sense bacterial proteins. With two years of no international conferences, it has been more valuable than ever to share our results with colleagues and catch up on other developments in the various fields of interest to our work.

  • Invited talk: “Sweetness and Light: Luminescent tools for sensing bacterial carbohydrate-binding proteins”, Joseph Byrne, 7th International Conference on Molecular Sensors and Molecular Logic Gates, 15 July 2022 (Dublin, Ireland) [Programme]
  • Oral presentation: “Shining a Light on Bacteria : Lanthanide- based Glycoconjugate Molecular Sensors for Lectins”, Karolina Wojtczak, 30th International Carbohydrate Symposium, 13 July 2022 (Online) [Programme]
  • Oral presentation: “Carbohydrate-functionalised metal complexes: targeting bacterial carbohydrate-binding proteins for therapeutic and diagnostic applications”, Joseph Byrne, 16th European Biological Inorganic Chemistry Symposium, 20 July 2022 (Grenoble, France) [Programme]

Joe attends Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting in Germany

Joe finally attended the prestigious Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting this year, after two years of pandemic-related postponements. It was an excellent experience, where he met several Nobel laureates including Dick Schrock and Benjamin List, and had dinner with Jean-Marie Lehn and William Kaelin.

Joe has summarised his experiences at the meeting in a blog, which the Irish Research Council asked him to keep while away.

Karolina wins prize for talk at ICI Colloquium

Karol delivered an oral presentation at the Irish Universities Chemistry Research Colloquium in UCD on 15 June 2022 entitled “Shining a Light on Bacteria : Lanthanide- based Glycoconjugate Molecular Sensors for Lectins”. The talk was very well received, with lots of discussion arising afterwards. The judges at the Colloquium, the highlight of the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland’s scientific calendar, awarded her a prize for her talk.

Prof. Declan Gilheany (UCD) awarding Karolina a prize for her presentation at the Colloquium

May Outreach Activities

In May Karolina participated in two outreach events, talking about science to both adults and children alike! Pint of Science was held on the 11th of May in Massimo’s Bar in Galway. The first Pint of Science Festival to be held in person in two years was a sold-out event and over 50 people of all different backgrounds enjoyed Karol’s talk about antimicrobial resistance and how we can fight it using sugars, over a pint. 

The second event was the annual START Competition, held in NUI Galway on the 20th of May. An event geared towards primary school children in 4th, 5th and 6th class to mark the anniversary of the first documented randomised clinical trial in 1747, and learn more about all the different disciplines of science that make clinical trials possible. Karol along with her colleagues volunteered as part of Kitchen Chemistry to chat to students from three different schools and show them fun and safe experiments they can easily do in their kitchen. After lunch she also put on a show demonstrating how to make “elephant toothpaste” and the freezing power of liquid nitrogen with help from Darragh, Lamis and Hanka. 

Article on lectin-inhibitors published in ChemMedChem

Karolina and Joe’s review article on “Structural considerations for building synthetic glycoconjugates as inhibitors for Pseudomonas aeruginosa lectins” has been published by ChemMedChem. The article is available here:

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a pathogenic bacterium, responsible for a large portion of nosocomial infections globally and designated as critical priority by the World Health Organisation. Its characteristic carbohydrate-binding proteins LecA and LecB, which play a role in biofilm-formation and lung-infection, can be targeted by glycoconjugates. In the review, we present the wide range of inhibitors for these proteins (136 references), highlighting structural features and which impact binding affinity and/or therapeutic effects, including carbohydrate selection; linker length and rigidity; and scaffold topology, particularly for multivalent candidates. We also discuss emerging therapeutic strategies, which build on targeting of LecA and LecB, such as anti-biofilm activity, anti-adhesion and drug-delivery, with promising prospects for medicinal chemistry.

This article would be a good entry-point for any researchers considering tackling P. aeruginosa as a target organism, particularly if they want to build lectin-targeting ligands building on the existing consensus in the field on the best structural features to ensure high lectin affinity.

Thanks to Science Foundation Ireland for funding this research.