Liberty Blue Customer Highlight: Dr. Adam Martin
Dr. Adam Martin
Senior Research Fellow, Group Leader
NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellow
Dr. Adam Martin completed his PhD at UWA in 2011 with Professor Colin Raston in the area of supramolecular chemistry. He then commenced a postdoctoral position at the University of Nottingham with Professor Martin Schröder synthesising novel ligands for new metal organic frameworks. In 2013 he moved to the University of New South Wales to work with Professor Pall Thordarson on deciphering the design rules in short peptide hydrogels. In 2016 he was awarded an NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Fellowship to use these scaffolds for culturing sensitive primary neurons, thus gaining insights into the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. He was promoted to Lecturer in early 2018 and in 2019 he commenced a position at Macquarie University as Leader of the Peptides and Proteins Group within the Dementia Research Centre.
In 2018, Dr. Martin and collaborators designed short, water-soluble peptides which self-assemble into nanofibers. When mixed with cell culture media, these peptide solutions automatically formed hydrogels, which can be used to grow sensitive primary neurons. This work was the first time that long-term (i.e. survival for 40+ days) culturing of primary neurons had been achieved on peptide nanofibers. These peptides are advantageous over the currently used gold standard, poly-lysine, as they are chemically well-defined (i.e. no batch variability), the procedure for coating glass coverslips with these peptide nanofibers is significantly quicker than for poly-lysine, and unlike poly-lysine, which is a 2D film, 3D peptide hydrogels mimic the physical properties of the brain. "Ultimately, we hope to use these scaffolds to grow diseased neurons (i.e. from transgenic animals which overexpress proteins associated with Alzheimer’s Disease) in a 3D environment, so that we can identify key biomarkers expressed during early disease stages, with the overarching goal of developing diagnostics for the early detection of Alzheimer’s" says Dr. Martin.
Figure 1. Lysine containing tetrapeptides Fmoc-Phe-Phe-Lys-Lys and Fmoc-Phe-Lys-Phe-Lys
The Dementia Research Centre is located within the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences within Macquarie University and is the first of its kind in New South Wales, Australia. The Centre is dedicated to discovery-based research and drug development for Alzheimer’s Disease, specifically targeting the development of novel therapies, elucidation of disease mechanisms and in vivo and in vitro models of disease. Centre Director, Professor Lars Ittner, is an internationally renowned expert and opinion leader in Alzheimer’s Disease research. The Centre brings together international and national leaders in translational dementia research, with a multidisciplinary team striving to accelerate today’s discoveries into tomorrow’s therapies.
In addition to designing peptide-based hydrogels which closely mimic the structure and physical properties of the brain for insights into the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, the Dementia Research Centre also has a comprehensive research program which investigates modelling the molecular role of tau in Alzheimer’s Disease and stroke, detailed in recent Science and Nature Communications papers, respectively. The Centre also has paired with medicinal chemists and international pharmaceutical industry to screen novel small molecule drugs using our in vitro and in vivo Alzheimer’s Disease models.
"The Liberty Blue has revolutionised the way that we approach peptide synthesis," says Dr. Martin. "With the ability to now approach peptide synthesis in a high throughput manner, we are now able to synthesise libraries almost overnight, or screen a wide variety of coupling conditions for potentially difficult synthetic peptides. The significant increase in coupling times - from >1h for manual coupling versus 5 minutes using the Liberty Blue – has allowed the Centre to access a number of peptides, both self-assembling and therapeutic, in quantities and on timescales that were previously unachievable. The addition of the HT12 module in particular has proved to be an asset in high throughput synthesis and screening.
All of the latest Dementia Research Centre news can either be accessed through the Centre website or Twitter page (@MQ_DRC).
For a selection of recent publications from the Martin Group, see:
"Faceted polymersomes: a sphere-to-polyhedron shape transformation" Chem.Sci. 2019, 10, 2725-2731 DOI: 10.1039/C8SC04206C
"Controlling self-assembly of diphenylalanine peptides at high pH using heterocyclic capping groups" Scientific Reports, 2017, 7, Article number: 43947
"Kinetically Controlled Lifetimes in Redox-Responsive Transient Supramolecular Hydrogels" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 8, 2869-2874 DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b12198