Transmembrane Anion Carriers for Biological Applications

Anthony Davis
University of Bristol

The promotion of anion transport across cell membranes is a key objective in supramolecular chemistry.  Cation transporters such as Valinomycin and Gramicidin are widely used for biological research, and have powerful biological activity.  However, effective counterparts for transporting anions are not yet routinely available.  There is particular interest in employing such anionophores as treatments for conditions caused by defective anion channels, notably the widespread genetic disease cystic fibrosis.  This lecture will describe our progress towards practical anion transporters based on scaffolds with 1,5-diaxial arrangements of H-bond donor groups.  The designs provide powerful anion binding sites set within frameworks which confer high (but controllable) levels of lipophilicity.  This combination can lead to extremely high transport activities which come remarkably close to matching the performance of natural anion channels.  Biological testing has recently begun, and preliminary results suggest that these molecules may indeed prove valuable in biomedical research and therapy.

Tony Davis gained a B.A. in Chemistry from Oxford University in 1977, then stayed on for a D.Phil. under Dr. G. H. Whitham and two years’ postdoctoral work with Prof. J. E. Baldwin. In 1981 he moved to the ETH Zürich as a Royal Society European Exchange Fellow working with Prof. A. Eschenmoser, then in 1982 was appointed as a Lecturer in Organic Chemistry at Trinity College, Dublin. In September 2000 he moved to the University of Bristol, where he is Professor of Supramolecular Chemistry in the School of Chemistry. His research focuses on the development of supramolecular systems with potential for biological applications, especially carbohydrate receptors and transmembrane anion transporters.  In 2002 he received the Tilden Medal from the Royal Society of Chemistry, and in 2015 the RSC Award for Physical Organic Chemistry. He is currently a member of the Editorial Board of Organic and Biological Chemistry.

Prof. dr. Anthony Davis

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