Friday, 24 September 2021 12:00


Edmond Magner and Dr Malgorzata Tecza

Bernal Institute


ABSTRACT – Presentation 1

Electrochemistry forms the basis for a wide range of applications, examples include sensors, batteries and fuel cells. This presentation will focus on recent work on the use of electrochemical methods to prepare and characterise supports for use in biocatalysis, biofuel cells and devices for the controlled delivery of pharmaceutical materials. The underlying premise in this work is the use of electrochemical methods to immobilise enzymes on surfaces with exquisite control. Enzyme immobilisation can be performed using a wide range of approaches that include alkanethiol, diazonium and a large range of polymer-modified surfaces. A sequence of three separate enzymes have been separately immobilised in a sequential manner in aqueous solution with retention of activity. This work has been extended to the immobilization of redox enzymes for use in flow reactors, biofuel cells and in the controlled release of antibiotics.

ABSTRACT – Presentation 2

ScpA is multidomain protease from Streptococcus pyogenes that has been identified as immune-modulating enzyme inactivating complement proteins: C5a, C3a and C3. This property of ScpA make the enzyme a potential therapeutic for immune-dysregulatory conditions, such as sepsis, adult respiratory distress syndrome, and psoriasis. The aim of the presented study was to identify an optimal approach to produce ScpA without pro-peptide and to identify the most suitable form of the enzyme as therapeutic in terms of its activity, stability and cellular response. No cytotoxicity of human immortalized keratinocyte cell lines (NTERT1) to ScpA was detected. The enzyme, expressed with and without propeptide, showed the same level of catalytic activity towards its substrate, human C5a, and both versions of ScpA remained stable and active for at least 120 hrs when incubated at 37°C. Furthermore, screening of ScpA activity against other proteins involved in the inflammatory processes revealed novel substrates of the enzyme: C5 and INFγ. These promising results confirm the feasibility of developing ScpA as a therapeutic.


Professor Edmond Magner studied at University College Cork (B.Sc.) and the University of Rochester (M.S., Ph.D.) and subsequently did postdoctoral work on electrochemical biosensors with Prof. W.J. Albery, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College, and on nonaqueous enzymology with Prof. A.M. Klibanov, Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He worked at MediSense, Inc and Abbott Laboratories in Bedford, Massachusetts in teams that developed electrochemical biosensors for glucose and hydroxybutyrate (combined sales of over $100 M per annum). He was appointed as a lecturer (1997) in the Department of Chemical Sciences and is now professor of electrochemistry (2012–) in the Department of Chemical Sciences. He served as Director of the Materials and Surface Science Institute (2003–2010) and as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering (2014–2019). As Dean, he led the amalgamation of the Bernal Project, the Materials and Surface Science Institute and the Stokes Institute to establish the Bernal Institute in June 2016. His research examines the properties of enzymes at surfaces with a focus on using enzymes in biocatalysis, biosensors and biofuel cells. With his research group, he has described the first studies of the thermodynamic processes associated with redox proteins in non-aqueous solvents, described specific ion effects on the catalytic activity of redox enzymes and published a large body of work on the immobilisation of enzymes on high surface area supports. He has supervised the research work of 22 Ph.D., 10 M.Sc. and 10 postdoctoral fellows and acted as principal investigator in research programmes funded by EI, SFI, HEA, EU and industry (total of over 25 million euro).

Dr Malgorzata Tecza is a Research Fellow at the Department of Chemical Sciences, University of Limerick, working within a DTIF project, having previously worked as a Scientist in Pharmaceutical Product Development and a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Limerick where she completed her PhD. The major interest of her career is structural and functional analysis of proteins with focus on the commercial exploitation of bioactive molecules for therapeutic purposes.

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