ESR 2 – Tayler David Prieto


Supervisor: Prof. Christine Cardin

Host: University of Reading, UK

Country of origin: Peru

Research: Synthetic and structural studies of ruthenium complexes as DNA major groove binders.

The aim of the project is to design and synthesize photoactive ruthenium complexes, which should be capable of binding in the DNA major groove and subsequently validate the binding interaction of these complexes with X-ray Crystallography. Therefore, the aim of the project is to provide the first major groove biding ruthenium complexes.

Scientific background:

In Dec 2019, David completed his Master’s degree in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Naples – Federico II.  

During his Master research internship at the University of Naples- Federico II (Sep 2018 – Dec 2018), he developed, synthetized, purified and analyzed a Peptide Nucleic Acid (PNA) molecule, an antigen agent for cancer therapy, more specifically against the Immune checkpoint inhibitor PD-L1, which is present on the surface of cancer cells. The last 5 month of his research internship took place at the University of Helsinki (Jan 2019 – Jun 2019). There, at the ImmunoViroTherapy laboratory run by Prof. Vincenzo Cerullo, he tested his PNA molecule on different human cancer cell lines (such as A549, SK-OV3 and MDA-MB436), and in order to evaluate the efficacy of his treatment, he investigated the expression of PD-L1 through Flow Cytometry.

In the end, he performed killing assays with xCELLigence/iCELLigence to determinate the viability of cancer cells treated with his PNA after co-culture with human PBMCs, to evaluate a potentiated killing effect by T-cells which would not be suppressed eventually.

During the months of October – November 2020, he worked in the laboratory of Prof. Giuseppe De Rosa at the University of Naples- Federico II, where he had the opportunity to increase his knowledge in nanomedicine, in particular, He characterised self-assembling nanoparticles for the release of bisphosphonates in the treatment of human cancers.

Personal background:

David is from Peru, but he grew up in Naples, one of the most beautiful and welcoming cities of Italy.

Since he was a child, he has always been interested in science and in understanding how things work. This passion for science and Chemistry in particular, increased during his University studies, where he fell in love with the topic of nucleic acid molecules. This was the reason why he decided to work on a project that involve a Peptide Nucleic Acid molecule, during his Master research internship.

The opportunity to understand even in more depth the chemistry of DNA, a nucleic acid molecule, its structure, the opportunity to put in practice his knowledge in Organic Chemistry, and the fact that he loves travelling were the reasons that drove him to apply for a PhD position within NATURE-ETN.