Research Fellows Directory
Dr Gordon Florence
University of St Andrews
Nature provides a seemingly endless reservoir of structurally diverse and bioactive compounds, isolated from terrestrial and marine sources. The biological activity of these compunds is often startling demonstrating, for example, anticancer, antibiotic, pesticidal and antifungal properties. In fact, the vast majority of drugs in use today have their origins in nature. Today there remains a pressing demand for the development of new drugs with the onset of antibiotic resistance in bacterial diseases and the problem of multi-drug resistance in cancer treatment, in which natural products continue to play an invaluable role, due to their unique and selective modes of action and potent activities. However, harvesting of these compounds from rare organisms is simply not an option. Therefore, practical synthetic routes are required to provide a sustainable supply to further investigate and exploit their biological activity. These factors, when coupled with their often complex molecular architectures provide compelling challenges to the modern synthetic chemist.
It is under these criteria that we select our targets, for instance, the palmerolides isolated from an Antarctic marine species, are highly selective agents towards human skin cancer, the eighth most common cancer in the UK. In turn, we seek to develop practical routes for their synthesis requiring the design, development and application of novel strategies and methodologies. We place emphasis upon introducing complexity with high levels of control and the application of cascade reactions (a reaction in which an array of individual steps are performed). In addition, the use of modular coupling strategies enables the introduction of subtle variations to allow conclusive structural proof and provide analogues, which can identify essential structural features required for bioactivity, thus aiding the design of even simpler structures which retain the desired activity profile.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)