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: https://doi.org/10.1002/cmdc.202200081

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.

New article in RSC Advances: Glycoclusters with anti-biofilm activity

Our new article, published in RSC Advances (a Gold Open Access journal), describes a series of new ruthenium-centred glycoclusters, which present four carbohydrate motifs around a three-dimensional octahedral scaffold. Multivalent glycoclusters have previously shown the ability to inhibit the carbohydrate-binding proteins which are produced by bacterium P. aeruginosa. Gordon Cooke’s group in TU Dublin tested these new compounds for their ability to inhibit growth of biofilm by P. aeruginosa and we observed that complex 8Gal, with flexible arms between the scaffold core and the galactose motif gave up to 80% inhibition of biofilm, when compared to the control – the other complexes and the ligand did not show antimicrobial activity. We propose that this activity is due to the ability of galactose to interact with the carbohydrate-binding protein LecA.

We thank Science Foundation Ireland for financial support for this work, as well as UCD School of Medicine’s SSRA Scheme, where preliminary studies began.

Joe speaks at Irish Biological Inorganic Chemistry Symposium

Joe gave an oral presentation about his work with carbohydrate-functionalised metal complexes at the 2020 Irish Biological Inorganic Chemistry Symposium in November. The annual IBICS meeting, and subsequent AGM, were held online this year and were well attended. Before his talk, Prof Celine Marmion, the president of IBICS, drew attention again to his role in organising the ICI Postgraduate Chemistry Research Symposium in September. The talk was followed by a number of questions from the attendees.

CÚRAM Centre Webinar

Joe was invited to present an online seminar by Prof Abhay Pandit, the Director of the CÚRAM Centre for Medical Device Research. Prof Pandit is one of the collaborators from CÚRAM involved in the group’s SIRG project. Joe gave a presentation titled: “Sweetness and light: a journey towards diagnostic tools based on luminescent glycoclusters”, where he explained to a multidisciplinary audience how his prior research interests led towards the current research programme that the Byrne Group is investigating. There was some good discussion after the seminar.

Walk for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland

Joe raised funds for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland by taking part in their annual Head2Head walk around Dublin Bay. Our research aims to develop diagnostic tools that could speed up diagnosis of P. aeruginosa infections, a widespread problem for people with CF – it seemed only right to try to raise some funds for organisations supporting people with the disease. Thanks to everyone who donated!

Joe in Sandymount starting his walk. The destination is at the end of the headland just next to his left ear!