Dr Mateus Webba da Silva earned a PhD in Chemistry from Exeter University in 1996. He was Research Fellow at the Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), and Senior Research Associate at Duke University (USA) before taking up a lectureship at Ulster University in 2005. He is currently Reader of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and leads the “Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Group” of the Biomedical Science Research Institute.
The major focus of research in this laboratory is the design and synthesis of new molecular and material entities utilizing nucleic acids. By applying novel chemical principles at the molecular level, exciting new molecules and molecular assemblies are created which possess unique biological, mechanical, sensory, electronic, and optical properties. Current programs of study include the following topics.
G-Therapeutics: Four-stranded nucleic acid architectures known as G-quadruplexes represent a novel molecular class of therapeutics with structure-specific recognition similar to protein-based monoclonal anti-bodies, and no known side effects. Out laboratory has developed the ability to control the self-assembly of these architectures and is currently interested in evaluating therapeutic utility of these architectures as drugs, drug carriers and sensors.
Functional plasmid nanoparticles: The most common form of gene therapy involves intracellular delivery of DNA that encodes a functional therapeutic gene to be delivered to specific sites of action. Although the science presents us with fantastic opportunities, delivery of the coding DNA is its biggest problem. In this program we are developing methodology to engineer particles of functional DNA plasmids for tissue-specific delivery.
G-Wires for Nanophotonics: Quantum confinement in the four-stranded DNA wire has demonstrated unique and unexpected properties. Nanowires of this type represent the smallest dimension for efficient transport of optoelectronic entities, due to their density of electronic states, and are therefore expected to be useful in nano(opto)electronics. In our laboratory we have been developing methodology for the controlled self-assembly of G-quadruplex wires. These architectures have demonstrated to posses interesting light emission properties that we are interested in exploiting.
- Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
- Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
- The Royal Society (London)
- The British Council