Located in Cambridge,
our laboratory works at
the interface of chemistry
and biology with a focus
on protein chemistry and
targeted cancer therapeutics.


January 2023

Our work on discovering Piperlongumine as a SARS-CoV-2 host-directed antiviral has been published in ACS Central Science and highlighted in EurekAlert and MedicalExpress, here. This study reveals that Piperlongumine selectively induces an increase in ROS levels in infected cells and significantly inhibits disease progression in a mouse model. It provides a new approach to combat SARS-CoV-2 variants and even other viruses. Check out the EurekAlert and Medical Express articles and our research paper.


June 2022

Our new method that ‘masks’ cancer-killing drugs and avoids harming healthy cells has now been published! This new approach uses a molecular carrier to deliver ortho-quinones directly to specific cells and shield healthy cells from the drug. You can read a News & Views about our work, here, and news article about our work here. If you want to learn more, you can read the full article in Nature Chemistry, here.


about our work

Nature has produced an intricate machinery to covalently diversify the structure of proteins after their synthesis in the ribosome. At the core of our research and in an attempt to mimic nature, we are engineering reactions that allow for post-expression modification of proteins at selected sites. We use such reactions to selectively install particular modifications on proteins for many biological and therapeutic applications. For example, we are developing strategies for site-selective protein labelling in live cells by combining the introduction of small-sized non-proteinogenic tagged amino acids with very rapid chemoselective reactions. We aim to apply these to label and monitor disease-associated proteins under native conditions without interfere with the protein’s innate structure, function, activity and localisation as well as cellular functions.
Another important aspect of protein modification is for example the conjugation of cytotoxic molecules to antibodies to improve efficacy and reduce side effects of cancer treatments. Gonçalo’s laboratory is engineering new reactions that can be performed site-selectively on native antibodies, i.e. without the need for sequence engineering.
These are two examples among other lines of research in our lab that have in common the use of synthetic aqueous chemistry to address challenges in biology and medicine. Our ultimate goal is to see the widespread use of our findings and methodologies by other laboratories around the world and to directly assist in the design and discovery of new drugs with improved selectivity and efficacy for treating cancer.

University of Cambridge
Department of Chemistry
Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EW, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1223336305