Research is at the core of Durham University. It shapes and inspires the disciplinary structure of our departments, several of which lead the UK - and even the world - in their fields. Research leads the content and development of our teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and creates new cross-disciplinary programmes through our centres and institutes. In partnership with policy-makers, industry, healthcare and education, Durham's cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural research shapes local, national and international agendas.
Links to recent research highlights and to the Research Office and other units and schemes that support our research can be found on this page.
Forthcoming research seminars
Exploring Trypanosoma brucei's lipid biosynthesis for drug targets
The Biophysical Sciences Institute seminar: Exploring Trypanosoma brucei's lipid biosynthesis for drug targets, will be presented by Dr Terry Smith (St-Andrews).
1pm, 19 April, Durham University, CG91, Chemistry Department.
There are currently no effective treatments against many of the debilitating and fatal diseases caused by insect-transmitted protozoan parasites such as Trypanosoma brucei (African sleeping sickness), Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas's) , Leshmania, Plasmodium (malaria) and Toxoplasma. The cell-surface's of these parasites are covered in glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchors and related molecules. T. brucei biosynthesis of GPI anchors are required for their abundant variant surface glycoprotein which protects them against the harsh environment of the bloodstream. GPI anchor biosynthesis is a proven genetic and chemical target for therapeutic drugs and relies upon several lipid and glycolipid metabolic pathways. We are finding significant exploitable differences between human and parasitic biosynthetic pathways and enzymes. Inhibitor studies and chemical synthesis followed by screening of focused compounds libraries for lead compounds will ultimately result in therapeutic drugs against these Third World diseases.
Our multi-disciplinary research approach involves:
(a) In vivo and in vitro biosynthetic studies, to investigate the parasites de novo synthesis of lipids and glycolipds.
(b) Bioinformatics, molecular biology and molecular parasitology are used to clone novel genes, allowing gene-knockout and/or RNAi approaches to genetically validate them as drug targets.
(c) Biochemical phenotyping of these modified parasites using labelling methods, quantification of metabolites and proteins, enzymatic assays, various mass spec methods and lipidomic approaches to help us understand the parasite's responses.
(d) Recombinant expression and development of enzymatic assays, ultimately for high-throughput screening, in conjunction with the design and chemical synthesis of biosynthetic inhibitors as drug leads.
Visit Durham's brand new research microsite - Breakthrough - for examples of our latest research, outstanding achievements and research grants.