New Tools for Chemical Medicine

The need to convert promising biologically-active molecules to effective therapeutic agents as rapidly as possible is driven by the limited length of proprietary protection and more urgently by the importance of more immediate treatment of life-threatening and debilitating diseases. Recent studies have highlighted the utility of targetted visualization of disease and delivery as a more effective alternatives to traditional methods.


We are interested in novel, multicomponent and targeted approaches to drug delivery that involves the synthesis of modified macromolecule conjugates e.g., glycoproteins, in conjunction with the design and synthesis of sugar-based drugs.

This strategy has led to the development of the "LEAPT" drug delivery system [pub 55] and glycoviruses for targeted delivery in gene therapy.[pub 60]


These principles of sugar-targeting have been extended to libraries of glycopolymeric prodrugs that have been used, for example, to extend the lifetime of sperm through targeted antioxidant delivery.[pub 70]

If successful in clinic, these approaches will lead to lower drug doses and reduced adverse side effects.

Imaging and Probing

We have developed methods for accessing a wide range of conjugates as tools for in vivo imaging, probing and manipulation.[pub 74]

This work is based on an understanding of the key processes on a structural level and the use of those principles to develop targeted, functional and responsive molecular medicine strategies.

This work includes drug and gene delivery, synthetic protein assembly and smart agents (including ready labelling strategies[pub 142][pub 161]) for imaging.

Examples of bioconjugate tools include re-tuned viruses [pub 60], carbon nanotubes [pub 137], functional MRI particles for detecting brain disease[pub 106] and single-molecule sensors of pathogens and toxins.

This work is conducted with many collaborators including Prof Len Seymour, Prof Malcolm Green, Prof Kostas Kostarelos, Dr Daniel Anthony, Prof Nicola Sibson, Prof Robin Choudhury, Prof Hagan Bayley.

Last updated: 06-11-14

Prof Benjamin G. Davis
University of Oxford
Chemistry Research Laboratory
Mansfield Road
Oxford, OX1 3TA, UK
Phone: + 44 (0)1865 275652
Fax: + 44 (0)1865 275674