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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

Cellular and Molecular Biology

The Cellular and Molecular Biology theme, within the Life Technologies challenge, takes an interdisciplinary approach toward developing techniques, platforms and molecules to decipher cellular processes and biological pathways, allowing a better understanding of the molecular basis of life. These techniques will enable the development of new diagnostics and therapeutics.

The Cellular & Molecular Biology theme, led by Professor Ali Tavassoli, brings together a wide variety of disciplines including Medicine, Microfluidics, Chemistry and Biology, allowing our principal investigators to apply interdisciplinary knowledge and methods to push the boundaries of cellular and molecular biology.

The breadth of collaborative knowledge engaged makes it possible for ground-breaking research to take place and, by developing tools for molecular and cellular biology applications, we have the potential to found new therapeutics, diagnostics and healthcare technologies.

The publications section of this website shows glimpses of the ground-breaking power of interdisciplinary science in medicine, microfluidics and cellular biology. Professor Tavassoli’s laboratory, for example, identifies molecules that disrupt protein/protein interactions in cells, using engineered bacteria to screen against a library of over 100 million cyclic peptides. This non-traditional approach to drug discovery has already identified several first-in-class inhibitors against some of the most challenging targets, such as transcription factor assembly.

 

Image supplied by Prof Ali Tavassoli
Structure of RAS/RAF protein-protein interaction.

For more information about the Molecular Biology theme please contact the theme leads below:

Related Staff Member

Related Staff Member

Related Staff Member

The Institute funds a cohort of interdisciplinary PhD studentships each year. Currently, postgraduate students in this field include:

Mira Kreuzer

Mira Kreuzer

Deciphering the effect of glycolytic mechanism on the transcriptional response to hypoxic stress

Ishna Mistry

Ishna Mistry

Deciphering the epigenetic response to hypoxia in cancer cells

Jaime Townend

Jaime Townend

Identification of cyclic peptide inhibitors of protein-protein interactions through improved split-intein technology

Key Publications

Image shows the structure of the RAS/RAF protein-protein interaction
Image shows the structure of the RAS/RAF protein-protein interaction

Mutants of the small GTPase KRAS are the most common activating lesions found in human cancers, and directly associated with poor response to therapy. RAS-driven cancers are among the most difficult to treat and often unresponsive to traditional therapies. The purpose of this programme is to identify and develop compounds that selectively inhibit the interaction of KRAS with its effector proteins. These protein-protein interactions are upregulated by activating-mutations of KRAS and known to be required for the tumorigenesis, and the maintenance of established tumours. These molecules will be identified in the Tavassoli lab using an in-house genetically encoded high-throughput screening platform that allows libraries of hundreds of millions of cyclic peptides to be generated and rapidly screened. The compounds developed during this programme will be a significant step towards therapeutic agents against this critical protein-protein interaction.

List of related projects to
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