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Giving great ideas a chance: what's next for science in the time of COVID-19?

  • Date 15 Apr 2021

David Pye assesses the effects on research of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, and considers what our priorities should be over the coming years.

By Dr David Pye, Scientific Director of Kidscan, and Subject Head for Chemical Sciences at the University of Salford
As scientific director of Kidscan – a children’s cancer research charity operating out of the University of Salford – my role is to develop therapeutic treatments for cancer, and fundamental chemistry is absolutely key to this. But ultimately our aim is to bring these therapies into the clinical setting to treat patients – which can be a big challenge for many academics.

As an example, for many years I have been interested in the therapeutic use of polysaccharides, for their ability to target blood vessel growth in cancers but no-one knew if there was specificity in the interactions. We investigated the conformational dynamics of these molecules – the way they move and how that relates to their structure/function – as a way of explaining the specificity. This is something that you can only do using chemical techniques – such as NMR and computer simulation of molecules – rather than a more traditional biochemistry approach.

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