Barbara Bernardim

Barbara Bernardim

Position: Royal Society Newton International Fellow

Department: Department of Chemistry, St John’s College

Keywords: Chemistry, chemical biology, proteins, antibodies

I perform research towards targeted cancer therapies by developing protein and antibody-drug conjugates (PDCs and ADCs).

Unlike traditional chemotherapy, which also affects proliferating healthy cells, ADCs are designed to specifically target and kill tumour cells by recognising and binding to a specific antigen that is overexpressed in cancers. Despite the encouraging fact that eight ADCs are available on the market, there are still many problems to solve, including the premature cleavage of the drug from the antibody, leading to off-target toxicity and side effects. My research has involved developing reagents that create the linkage between the protein and the drug – resistant enough to survive before reaching the tumour cell. Significant contributions I have made in the field include the design, development and application of a reagent for the site-selective targeting of cysteine-containing proteins in a mild and robust manner. This surprisingly accessible strategy allowed me to prepare several protein conjugates of varied complexity and is now being further explored by other members of the group and collaborators abroad for applications in drug-delivery.

Get in touch: bb501 [at] cam.ac.uk or @BBernardim on Twitter