Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - DNAREC (DNA recognition by drugs and proteins)

The DNAREC programme provided multidisciplinary research training to 11 early stage research scientists in the area of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) recognition by synthetic drugs and proteins.

Three of the trainees undertook 36 months of training each, in order to complete PhD research studies at the University of Birmingham. The submissions of their theses were due end of 2010. A further two partially undertook their PhDs and would continue on beyond the funding of this programme to complete them. Six other trainees from other Universities came to undertake research training periods at the University of Birmingham and, during those periods, undertook research work that would contribute to their PhD studies. Amongst them three theses were already awarded, while the other three were ongoing by the time of the project completion.

All DNAREC researchers interacted with each other on a daily basis, facilitated in part by shared housing and shared offices, and were able to cross-fertilise ideas and help each other with different techniques. In addition, they interacted with other academics and their research groups in chemistry and bioscience from across the DNAREC training site, sharing ideas, working in different laboratories and learning about different techniques. The mixture of longer term trainees with shorter term trainees from other laboratories allowed for a cross-fertilisation of ideas and experiences between different European laboratories, as well as for the development of new collaborations between the sending laboratories and the Birmingham host laboratories.

The project scientific highlights included:

1. new designs for drugs that recognised less common forms of our DNA, for example the DNA fork structures found whenever our DNA was replicated
2. new drugs that emitted light and could enter cells and bind to certain DNA sequences, thus having the potential of being used to detect the presence of those sequences
3. new agents that could chop DNA for 'footprinting' the DNA in molecular biology applications
4. new ways to screen libraries of DNA-binding drugs
5. information about where bacterial proteins bound to the bacterial DNA and how they were arranged with respect to each other
6. how the bacterial genome folded
7. new types of metal-based drugs, a deeper understanding of how they interacted with DNA, how they affected protein recognition of DNA and the consequences of that for their biological modes of action.

The quality of the research was evidenced by the fact that trainees delivered lectures on the research at leading international conferences including the Gordon Research Seminar in Bioinorganic Chemistry, Ventura, California, USA, 2010; the 10th European Biological Inorganic Chemistry Conference, Thessaloniki, Greece, 2010 and the 14th International Conference on Biological Inorganic Chemistry (ICBIC-14), Nagoya, Japan, 2009. Trainees also presented work as posters at a variety of international meetings and were active participants in many workshops, scientific meetings and scientific working groups organised by the European Union Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action D39, titled 'Metallo-drug design and action', COST Action D38 'Metal-based systems for molecular imaging applications' and COST Action D31 'Organising non-covalent chemical systems with selected functions'.

Consistent with this high international impact, four publications had appeared or were accepted in international conferences and eight more were in the course of being drafted, by the time of the project completion, based on work that was already presented at conferences. More were planned to follow subsequently. Finally, the trainees all worked together to prepare a short film, directed by trainee Calle Alonso, which aimed at the general public and was titled 'A perfect fit for cancer treatment'. The film received the first prize 'New Media and Public Engagement Doctoral Research Film of the Year Award 2010' at The University of Birmingham. It was available both on the university site and on Youtube, in the address.

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United Kingdom