Marc Vendrell's lab studies dynamic activatable fluorophores for real-time imaging of key molecular events in cancer and inflammation.
Ryan Treadwell - MSc student
Clara Vergez - OPTIMA CDT PhD student co-supervised with Marc Dweck
Optical imaging enables the acquisition of molecular information from biological systems in situ and in real time. My lab works on the development of dynamic activatable fluorophores as novel chemical tools to address fundamental biological questions and translate them to clinical research. Our group combines expertise in peptide and organic chemistry, cell imaging, molecular biology and fluorescence spectroscopy, and we collaborate with biologists, immunologists and clinicians in a highly interdisciplinary environment.
The aim of our research is to develop dynamic activatable fluorophores (DYNAFLUORS) as enabling chemical tools to interrogate key events associated to cancer and inflammation. We generate our DYNAFLUORS through a multidisciplinary approach that involves organic and peptide chemistry, cell biology, high-resolution imaging and medicine. DYNAFLUORS are excellent optical probes because their fluorescent signal is triggered only after they interact with target molecules (e.g. proteins, enzymes) or in specific microenvironments (eg organelles, pH gradients). Our approach leads to high signal-to-noise ratios with increased sensitivity, which enables their use in small concentrations reducing any potential adverse effects and facilitating clinical translation.
Here there are some examples of our DYNAFLUORS:
PhagoGreen, an activatable cell-permeable probe for imaging phagocytic macrophages in vivo (Reproduced from J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 16018-21).
Time-lapse movie showing the phagosomal localization of PhagoGreen in transgenic zebrafish with mCherry-labeled macrophages.
Time-lapse movie of an actively engulfing macrophage, where the mature phagosome is brightly green fluorescent while the newly formed phagosome is devoid of green fluorescence.
The Trp-BODIPY amino acid enables fluorogenic labelling of peptides for enhanced live-cell imaging.
Marc graduated in Chemistry at the University of Barcelona in 2007. He then joined the Singapore Bioimaging Consortium to work with Young-Tae Chang in synthetic fluorophores for non-invasive optical imaging. In 2012 he started his independent career as MRC Academic Fellow at the University of Edinburgh with the vision to translate fluorescent probes to the clinic. He is a Lecturer in Biomedical Imaging and his main research interest is the development of activatable fluorophores for imaging cancer and inflammation. He has over 50 publications in chemical biology and imaging, including eight international patents. His research has been recognised with several awards: SEQT Young Investigator Award (2007), SBIC Chairman's Prize (2010) and the Marie Curie CIG (2013).
2016: ChemComm Emerging Investigator