... understanding life in molecular detail

Dr Dejian Zhou

Multifunctional Nanoparticle, Glycobiology, Multivalency, FRET, Biosensing, Multivalent protein-glycan interaction

We are developing a novel polyvalent multifunctional nanoparticle (PMN) strategy to exploit multivalency and unique properties of nanoparticles to address some important, unmet biological and biomedical chalennges: dissecting multivalent viral receptor-carbohydrate interaction mechanisms; developing ultrasensitive assays for ealy detection and diagnosis of cancer and other human diseases.

Current major projects include:
  • Dissecting multivalent viral receptor-glycan interactions
  • Ultrasensitive nanoparticle sensors for early disease diagnosis
  • Multivalent multifunctional anti-bacterial nanoparticles
  • Multifunctional anti-cancer nanomedicine

The research interests of the Zhou group are focused at the bio-nano interface, where the unique size-dependent optical & electrical properties of the nanoparticles and the high-specific target recognition & biological functions of biomolecules are combined to develop smart nanoparticle based diagnostics and therapeutics to address some unmet challenges currently facing the society: food safety, cancer diagnosis and treatments.

Nanosensing & diagnostics. Three different types of nanoparticle sensing technologies are being actively pursued to address the different biodetection & diagnostic needs:

(1) A gold nanoparticle (GNP) based simple, colorimetric sensor that allows for rapid detection of nM level of proteins and small-molecule targets,1 which is now being evaluated by the UK food and environment research agency (FERA) as an alternative rapid, on-site screening tool for some important illegal additives and harmful residues in food.

(2) A quantum dot (QD)-FRET based sensor that allows for rapid, accurate ratiometric detection of specific DNA and protein targets at the pM level;2 which is suitable for rapid fluorimetric biosensing and diagnostic applications. We are also developing novel multivalent nucleic acid and/or peptide aptamers-QD probes for effective cancer imaging and diagnostics under clinical relevant settings.

(3) A magnetic nanoparticle (MNP) based ultrasensitive sensor that can detect low fM level of genetic and protein biomarkers in clinical relevant media (e.g. 10% human serum).3 This sensor also offers exquisite discrimination (>120 fold) between a cancer specific SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphisms) against its wild-type target, making it well-suited for genetic SNP based diagnosis of important human diseases, such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases etc.

Nanomedicine. A major drawback to current small-molecule based cancer therapeutic treatments is the lack of targeting ability and selectivity: it kills healthy as well as cancer cells, causing severe side-effects and toxicity in patient. We have recently developed a novel nanoparticle-pH-responsive DNA based drug nanocarrier that can exploit the characteristic properties of cancer tumours to achieve efficient, targeted delivery and pH-triggered release of anticancer drug loads inside cancer cells, leading to high cytotoxicity.4 We are currently developing multifunctional nanomedicines which combine specific active targeting, multi-modal therapeutic and imaging capacities for targeted, traceable drug delivery, controlled release and more effective cancer therapy.

Selected Recent publications

1.  N. Derbyshire, S. J. White, D. H.J. Bunka, L. Song, S. Stead, J. Tarbin, M. Sharman, D. Zhou & P. G. Stockley,  Anal. Chem. 2012, 84, 6595-6602.

2.  a) H. Zhang & D. Zhou*, Chem. Commun. 2012, 48, 5097-9; b) D. Zhou*, Biochem. Soc. Trans. 2012, 40, 635-9; c) H. Zhang, G. Feng, Y. Guo* & D. Zhou*, Nanoscale, 2013, doi: 10.1039/C3NR02897F

3.  a) Y. Zhang, Y. Guo*, P. Quirke & D. Zhou*, Nanoscale 2013, 5, 5027-35; b) J. Garcia, Y. Zhang, H. Taylor, O. Cespedes, M. E. Webb & D. Zhou*. Nanoscale 2011, 3, 3721-30; c) Y. Zhang & D. Zhou*, Expert Rev. Mol. Diagn. 2012, 12, 565-571; d) Y. Zhang, C. Pilapong, Y. Guo*, Z. Ling, O. Cespedes, P. Quirke & D. Zhou*, Anal. Chem. 2013, doi: 10.1021/ac402081u.

4.  L. Song, V. H. B. Ho, C. Chen, Z. Yang, D. Liu, R. Chen* & D. Zhou*, Adv. Healthcare Mater. 2013, 2, 275-280. Journal back cover.


Detailed research programme                  Close ▲

Senior Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry
BSc (Peking) PhD (Peking)
National Top 100 Excellent PhD Thesis Award, Ministry of Education, China, 1999. Young Chemists Award, Chinese Chemical Society, 1996. Award for Scientific & Technological Improvement, 2nd prize, Chin

Postdoc (Cranfield) 1997-2000
Research Associate (Cambridge) 2000-2005
Senior Research Associate (Cambridge) 2006-2007)
Senior Lecturer (Leeds) 2007-present

Chemistry 1.54
School of Biomedical Sciences
0113 343 6230

Selected Publications

  1. Guo Y*, Nehlmeier I, Poole E, Sakonsinsiri C, Hondow N, Brown A, Li Q, Li S, Whitworth J, Li Z, Yu A, Brydson R, Turnbull WB, Pöhlmann S, Zhou D*, "Dissecting Multivalent Lectin-Carbohydrate Recognition Using Polyvalent Multifunctional Glycan-Quantum Dots". J. Am. Chem. Soc. (2017) 139 11833-11844.

  2. Guo Y*, Sakonsinsiri C, Nehlmeier I, Fascione MA, Zhang H, Wang W, Pöhlmann S, Turnbull WB & Zhou D*. "Compact, Polyvalent Mannose Quantum Dots as Sensitive, Ratiometric FRET Probes for Multivalent Protein-Ligand Interactions." Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (2016) 55, 4738-4742.

  3. Zhang Y,  Guo Y*, Quirke P & D. Zhou*. "Ultrasensitive single-nucleotide polymorphyism detection using target-recycled ligation, strand displacement and enzymatic amplification." Nanoscale (2013) 5, 5027-5035.

  4. Song L, Ho V. H. B., Chen C, Yang Z, Liu D, Chen R* & D. Zhou*, "Efficient pH-triggered drug delivery using a pH-responsive DNA-conjugated gold nanoparticle." Advanced Healthcare Materials (2013) 2, 275-280.