Automated Peptide Synthesiser

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Bioengineering


Peptides are short chains of amino acids that can be organised in large and complex structures with uniquely desirable chemical and biological properties. For these reasons, peptides or peptide derivatives have been extensively used in biomedical research as probes (to investigate fundamental biological processes in vitro or in cells); as drugs (being main constituents of drugs and vaccines), or as implants with unique (e.g., adhesive) properties. Researchers across departments at Imperial College develop and use peptides with specific applications in all these areas. Example of application include:
(1) The development of new tools to help improve the way diseases, such as cancer, are diagnosed and then treated.
(2) The development of new materials such as adhesives that can help repair failing hearts, bone tissue matrices.
(3) The development of novel devices for drug delivery, or specific applications such as minimising risks during bypass surgery.
The requested automated peptide synthesiser, PurePep Chorus, will enable the parallel synthesis of up to six peptides simultaneously. As such It will free up valuable staff time by replacing the laborious and time-consuming procedure of manual peptide synthesis. Importantly it will alleviate the health risks associated with the process of manual peptide synthesis due to the exposure to allergens and toxic chemicals. The non-availability of an in-house state-of-the art peptide synthesiser is a key bottle neck in the progression and expansion of research at Imperial, examples of which are described above. The PurePep Chorus will be housed in the managed Bionanofabrication facility in the Sir Michael Uren Hub at White City and will be accessible to academics across Imperial College as well as external academic and industrial users.

Technical Summary

The requested peptide synthesiser will be incorporated into a managed facility enabling usage from groups which do not have expertise in manual peptide synthesis. Peptides are increasingly utilised in novel interdisciplinary research initiatives and the increased capacity provided by the peptide synthesiser will enable multidisciplinary research under the MRC supported research areas of Cellular Medicine, Regenerative Medicine, and Infection and Immunity. Research within these themes traverse the MRC highlighted health focus themes of prevention and early detection, precision medicine, and advanced therapies. Below are examples of active research undertaken by the PI/ CoIs that will make use of the proposed synthesiser:
Prevention and early detection: Ladame - development of non-invasive devices for the early detection of scleroderma and skin cancer, development of lateral flow tests for early detection of prostate cancer or preterm birth; Spivey - removal of deleterious products of haemolysis during bypass surgery; Stevens - biosensors for target agnostic sensors.
Precision medicine: Salehi-Reyhani - isolation of CTCs from metastatic cancer patients; Barnard - identification of protein-protein interactions implicated in the survival of pathogenic organisms or cancer cells.
Advanced therapies: Elani - development of neoantigen vaccines and drug delivery technologies for prostate cancer; Green - implantable devices; Spivey - development of synthetic antibodies for the targeting of cancer therapies; Celiz - novel tissue engineering scaffolds and medical adhesives for failing hearts; Stevens - biomaterials for bone tissue engineering.


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