UCL scientists develop powerful new class of reagents for the modification of proteins

26 February 2010

Scientists from the Department of Chemistry at UCL have recently published details of their ground-breaking technology to reversibly conjugate proteins. This is a major technical target, with broad utility in biotherapeutics, drug development, assays, and manufacturing.

This technology has garnered considerable interest from the scientific community and the pharmaceutical industry following its publication.

The Bromomaleimide work by Dr Jamie Baker, Prof Steve Caddick, Dr Mark Smith, and others, has recently been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), as reported in the March edition of Nature Chemical Biology.

The low natural abundance of Cysteine residues, means the bioconjugation of this amino acid is a very effective method to access modified proteins. The UCL research demonstrates that protein labelling with N-substituted bromomaleimide derivatives overcomes many of the limitations associated with the irreversible chemical modification of cysteine residues in proteins. In addition these reagents also provide opportunities for further attachment of functional groups.

UCLB considers this to be a significant field of discoveries and has made a substantial investment with three patent filings, and a large PoC award. In addition a recent BBSRC follow on fund of £123,608 was awarded to aid exemplification of the patents and further demonstrate key areas of industrial utility.

Professor Steve Caddick, one of  the inventors of the technology, and incoming Vice-Provost for Enterprise at UCL said: “I am delighted that this work has received such a positive response. We think that there are many exciting opportunities for using this new methodology from basic science through to commercial applications in healthcare and nanotechnology. We are grateful to EPSRC, BBSRC and UCLB for support of the work at this early stage.”

Chris Loryman, Business Manager on the project said: “we recognise the significance of these discoveries, and we are working to identify suitable partners to develop the application of this technology in specific areas.”

UCLB is currently inviting proposals from potential partners, targeted towards delivering the benefits of this technology in key markets.

Abstract:Protein Modification, Bioconjugation, and Disulfide Bridging
New ‘hook’ for reversibly binding molecules to proteins
New appointments to UCL’s senior management team

Further Information
Please contact Chris Loryman, Business Manager at UCL Business, on: +44 (0)20 7679 9000 or email: c.loryman@uclb.com