DNA and beyond!

A mini symposium in honour of Professors Jacqueline Barton and Peter Dervan was held in Trinity College Dublin on May 17th. Prof. Jackie Barton gave the prestigious Cocker Lecture entitled “DNA Signalling” and was also awarded the RSC Centenary Prize. Thanks to Professors Sylvia Draper, Peter Dunne, Isabel Rozas for the invite to present on “Recent Advances in Copper(II) Artificial Metallonuclease Design” at this symposium.


2019 DCU Chemistry Day

The 4th Annual DCU Chemistry Day was a great success again for the research group with 1st year PhD student Seán O’Halloran winning best flash presentation and Brionna McGorman winning best poster presentation!

On the day we also had presentations from Karen Ontiveros and Anna Ziemele and a poster from Zara Molphy and Nicoló Zuin Fantoni based on our recent Chemistry - A European Journal publication!

Thanks to the organisers for another great day!

Recent Advances in Anticancer Copper Compounds


The new Royal Society of Chemistry “Metal-based Anticancer Agents” book has just been published!

The interdisciplinary world of inorganic drug discovery and development is explored in this book. Pre-clinical and clinical applications of transition metals such as platinum, copper, ruthenium, iron, gold are discussed. It is a very useful resource for established researchers and postgraduate students of medicinal chemistry and metallobiology alike. Read our chapter on “Recent Advances in Anticancer Copper Compounds”.

Thanks to editors Angela Casini, Anne Vessières, Samuel M Meier-Menches for inviting us to contribute to this great RSC Metallobiology series!


Recent publications

Recent publications to appear online from the Kellett research group in Royal Society of Chemistry journals include:

  • A new class of prophylactic metallo-antibiotic possessing potent anti-cancer and anti-microbial properties in Dalton Transactions

  • Synthesis, self-assembly, bacterial and fungal toxicity, and preliminary biodegradation studies of a series of L-phenylalanine-derived surface-active ionic liquids in Green Chemistry


Just Published!

We have just published a tutorial review article “Molecular methods for assessment of non-covalent metallodrug–DNA interactions” in the RSC journal Chemical Society Reviews!

This article covers a number of key learning points including:

• Essentials of nucleic acid structure.

• Principles of nucleic acid–metallodrug recognition.

• Application of mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography to probe selective metallodrug–DNA binding sites.

• Quantification of metallodrug–DNA interactions using high-throughput optical techniques based on fluorescence and absorbance spectroscopy.

• Electrophoretic techniques and the use of on-chip microfluidic assays to identify drug–DNA damage.

Check it out here.

SFI TIDA Success!


Dr Creina Slator received Science Foundation Ireland’s Technology Innovation Development Award (TIDA) for her project entitled “Pre-Clinical Evaluation of Chemotherapeutic Z-DNA Forming Di-Copper(II) Metallodrugs”. Her project seeks to develop a novel class of copper-based anticancer agents for preclinical evaluation. Therapeutic studies will be conducted in a range of mutated breast cancer cell lines and models to understand unique DNA interactions that can overcome innate repair mechanisms. The project presents a promising commercialisation opportunity for the Irish Biopharmaceutical sector in the area of Cancer and Oncology.

Check out the DCU press release here.

ChemPlusChem 2019

We have have just published an article in the Wiley journal ChemPlusChem reporting a codeine C3-opioid DNA condensing scaffold (CC3) rationally designed through informatics-based conformation generation and ab initio geometry optimisation. The scaffold undergoes protonation at physiological pH that allows for controlled compaction and release of nucleic acids.


Financial support for this work was provided by Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) ClickGene [H2020-MSCA-ITN-2014-642023]; Science Foundation Ireland (15/CDA/3648) ; and the Synthesis and Solid-State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC).

Final ClickGene Meeting at DCU

On the 6th of December, ClickGene ESRs travelled from across Europe to attend the final network meeting at DCU. Prof Andrew Kellett gave ESRs an overview of the work packages, objectives, achievements and dissemination from the ITN since 2015. Keynote lectures were given by Dr Niall Barron (NIBRT) and Prof Vickie McKee while ESRs presented the latest advancements in their own research projects. This meeting highlighted the quality of research output from the ClickGene ITN and the ESRs enjoyed celebrations in Dublin City centre.


Techniques & Strategies in Molecular Medicine Workshop

Last week postdocs and PhD students from the SFI funded project PPtBio attended the Techniques & Strategies in Molecular Medicine workshop run by Clinical Research Development Ireland (CRDI). This 2 day course at Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute covered technologies/techniques including epigenetics, next generation sequencing, CRISPR, fluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry and their applications.

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DCU November Graduations 2018

Huge congratulations to both Anna Ziemele and Seán O’Halloran who graduated this month from their BSc. (Hons) in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science here at DCU. Both students completed their 12 week final year research projects in the Kellett Group working along side postgraduate students Nicoló and Seán. In October, Anna and Seán joined the group as 1st year PhD candidates and are working on projects funded by the SSPC and Cúram Centre for Research in Medical Devices.

Schrödinger at 75—The Future of Biology

In September 1943 Erwin Schrödinger, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, and then Director of Theoretical Physics at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, gave three public lectures entitled 'What is Life?' at Trinity College Dublin. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of these talks, a two day conference was held at the National Concert Hall Dublin which brought together some of the best minds in biology under one roof. Nicolò and Zara attended the event which included keynotes from Nobel Prize winners including Bernard Feringa, John O’Keefe, Michael Rosbash, Susumu Tonegawa and Ada Yonath and a number of other esteemed speakers.

Nicolò had to opportunity to meet James Watson on day 2 at the National Concert Hall!

II Medicinal Chemistry Ireland Conference

On June 29th, we hosted the II Medicinal Chemistry Ireland Conference at DCU. This successful event brought together excellent researchers from medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry backgrounds. The event was attended by researchers from both academia and industry as well as graduate, post-graduate and postdoctoral fellows. Keynote speakers on the day included Prof Tom Brown (University of Oxford), Prof Marie-Paule Teulade-Fichou (Curie Institute), Prof Christine Cardin (University of Reading), Dr Colin O’Dowd (Almac), Prof Bruno Linclau (University of Southampton), Dr Elisabetta Chiarparin (Astra-Zeneca) and Prof Donal O’Shea (Royal College of Surgeons Ireland).

Awards for postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers who presented posters on the day went to Mark Berney (TCD) and Christopher Burke (DCU).

Thanks to all involved on the Organising Committee for making the day such a success!

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European School of Medicinal Chemistry ESMEC, Urbino.

This summer, ClickGene PhD student Nicolò attended the ESMEC Advanced Course of Medicinal Chemistry and Seminar in Urbino, Italy. This 5 day summer school covered topics including medicinal and organic chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology and analytical/ structural chemistry. Nicoloò presented a poster and also gave an oral presentation on the final day of the conference entitled “Artificial metallo-nucleases for gene editing”.

Virginia Commonwealth University visit

A seminar was held this summer to mark the 70th birthday of Prof. Nicholas Farrell. Colleagues and collaborators travelled from around the world to attend this meeting held at Virginia Commonwealth University to celebrate his contribution to the fields of bioinorganic and medicinal chemistry.

Creina wins 2018 YERUN Research Mobility Award

In February of this year, Creina was awarded a prestigious Research Mobility Award from the Young European Research University Network (YERUN) and travelled to the University of Southern Denmark, Odense. This award allowed Creina to travel to SDU in June and gain invaluable experience on the XtaLAB Synergy-S single crystal X-ray diffractometer working alongside with Prof. Vickie McKee (DCU) and Prof. Christine McKenzie (SDU).

Well done Creina!

Outstanding Graduate Award

Today, final year PhD student Natasha McStay was awarded the prestigious DCU Faculty of Science and Health Outstanding Graduate Researcher Award alongside Emma Harper from the School of Biotechnology. This award recognises graduate students of exceptional ability who have made a significant contribution to research within the FSH at DCU.

Congratulations Natasha!