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Creating Molecular Probes to Study Interactions in Biology

Welcome to the website of the Butler Research Group. We are based in the Chemistry Department at Loughborough University. Research in the Butler Group is focused on the synthesis of supramolecular tools to probe interactions at the chemistry/biology interface. We are developing fluorescent and luminescent molecular probes for the selective detection of biological substrates. We are applying these probes to monitor biological processes in real-time, such as tracking enzyme activity in vitro and in living cells, to facilitate the discovery of new potent drugs.

Our research is multidisciplinary in nature, spanning organic synthesis, physical organic chemistry techniques, molecular recognition, optical spectroscopy, bioassay development and cellular imaging. 

If you are interested in joining the Butler Group please contact Steve for an informal discussion about opportunities, or if you would like to apply for external funding to join the group. We are always looking for keen scientists to join our team!


Latest News

Selective Binding and Sensing of AMP

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September 2022

Our latest paper on anion recognition is published in RSC Organic Chemistry Frontiers – we describe the impact of boronic acid position within macrocyclic Eu(III) complexes on their ability to selectively bind and sense AMP. We can now monitor phosphodiesterase activity with our AMP-selective probe - congratulations Sam and Colum!

Lanthanide-Based Time-Resolved FRET Assay Review


August 2022

Simon and Steve publish a review on lanthanide-based time-resolved FRET assays in Analysis & Sensing, part of a Special Issue on Metal-based Sensing.

The Butler Group Hosted the RSC ECR MASC Meeting

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July 2022

The Butler group hosted the RSC Early Career Researcher MASC (Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry) Meeting at Loughborough University. It was a fantastic day of supramolecular chemistry, presented by UK PhD, postdoctoral and early career researchers. We had 120 delegates, 52 posters and 12 oral presentations – super to have the community together in person again!

Controlling the Size of Core-Shell Particles 

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June 2022

Congratulations to Caty for publishing her work in Polymer Chemistry this month. This collaborative project with Helen Willcock and Lorenzo Tei continues our development of macromolecular MRI contrast agents. Here, we control the size of core-shell particles and present a simple method to incorporate molecular imaging agents into the polymer shell.

Paramagnetic Lanthanide Tags

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June 2022

Well done to Lydia for publishing some of her work on paramagnetic lanthanide tags in Magnetic Resonance this month. In collaboration with Gottfried Otting’s lab (ANU), we show that the local structure of a protein region is best determined using multiple tags at a single site, rather using multiple tagging sites. This has important practical implications because it’s much easier to identify a single tagging site than multiple ones on a protein surface!

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