April 4, 2007
TCD hosts 8th Annual Symposium on Supramolecular Chemistry

The 8th Annual Symposium on Supramolecular Chemistry in Ireland was organised by Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology (CSCB) investigators Professor Thorri Gunnlaugsson and Dr Paul Kruger and hosted in the TCD School of Chemistry on Friday 30 March.

The day-long event was sponsored by the CSCB and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and comprised seven lectures covering a range of topics including designing medical devices that incorporate antibiotics, examining the structures of supramolecules and results from preclinical studies using light therapy.

Photo of speakers at 8th Annual Symposium on Supramolecular Chemistry
From Left to right: Professor Thorri Gunnlaugsson, Dr Wolfgang Schmitt, Professor Wais Hosseini, Dr Jim Thomas, Professor Bart Ravoo, Professor Claude Piguet, Dr Donal O'Shea and Dr Paul Kruger (Not pictured: Dr Colin McCoy)

Dr Colin McCoy from Queen's University Belfast opened the symposium with his talk on "Responsive biomaterials: mobilising the charge and light brigades." To a packed lecture theatre he outlined existing problems with medical devices including how biofilms of bacteria can form on the surface causing infections. Dr McCoy presented his research on incorporating a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Gentamicin into bone cement and explained how controlled release of the antibiotic could reduce post-operative infection.

Dr Wolfgang Schmitt from the School of Chemistry TCD then described his research on "Engineering supramolecular hybrid organic-inorganic coordination compounds." Dr Schmitt showed a fascinating array of supramolecules his group have worked on engineering and characterising.

Packing of Al15-oxo clusters (red and blue aggregates) results in an exceptional open-framework structure that reveals similarities with zeolites. View in the direction of the crystallographic c-axis.
Packing of Al15-oxo clusters (red and blue aggregates) results in an exceptional open-framework structure that reveals similarities with zeolites. View in the direction of the crystallographic c-axis.(Image courtesy of Dr Wolfgang Schmitt)

The morning's plenary lecture was delivered by Professor Wais Hosseini from the Institut Le Bel Université Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg. "Chemists have always been nanotechnologists," explained Professor Hosseini in the first part of his talk entitled "Molecular tectonics: self-assembly and generation of structural complexity". He described the supramolecular chemist's "toolbox" which include Van der Waals interactions, hydrogen bonds and electrostatic interactions. In the second part of his lecture about "Molecular gates: towards molecular rotors", Professor Hossieni used an image of a lock and gate to explain his work on designing a porphyrin-based gate with a silver lock.

Former CSCB researcher Professor Bart Ravoo from the University of Münster, Germany presented a talk on "Cyclodextrin vesicles: supramolecular chemistry of dymanic interfaces". Outlining how a biological membrane can be viewed as organised like a supramolecular architecture, he then demonstrated the effectiveness of multiple weak interactions between molecules with an image of Gulliver tied to the ground by the Lilliputians!

UCD CSCB investigator Dr Donal O'Shea's talk was on "Therapeutic selectivity via supramolecular photochemistry". Dr O'Shea began by explaining how photodynamic therapy (PDT) is used for the treatment of cancerous tumours. He then outlined ongoing clinical trials using PDT agents and presented data on some new PDT molecules synthesised by his group which are currently halfway through preclinical studies.

Nanotechnology also featured in the lecture by Dr Jim Thomas from the University of Sheffield in his lecture entitled "Kinetically locked self-assembly". He explained how the construction of molecular devices for nanotechnology, such as switches and sensors, will require kinetically robust architectures.

X-ray structure of a self-assembled metallo-macrocycle that functions as a luminescent sensor for anions

X-ray structure of a self-assembled metallo-macrocycle that functions as a luminescent sensor for anions. (Image courtesy of Dr Jim Thomas)

The day ended with the second plenary lecture by Professor Claude Piguet from the University of Geneva who advised all the chemists present not to be afraid of mathematics as he outlined the mathematical calculations underpinning some of the miraculous polymetallic self-assembly processes.

 

 

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