Professor Brent Raymond Copp
BSc(Hons-I), PhD (Canterbury)
- PhD. University of Canterbury (1989, with Murray Munro and John Blunt)
- Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Cornell University (1990, with Jon Clardy)
- Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of Utah (1990-1992, with Chris Ireland)
- Xenova Ltd, England (1992-1993)
- Visiting Research Associate Professor, University of Utah, July 1997-February 1998
- Lecturer, Department of Chemistry, The University of Auckland, 1993-1998
- Senior Lecturer, Department of Chemistry, The University of Auckland, 1999-2005.
- Associate Professor, School of Chemical Sciences, The University of Auckland, 2006-2017.
- Professor, School of Chemical Sciences, The University of Auckland, 2018-
Research | Current
The Natural Products Research Group investigates New Zealand marine organisms as sources of new compounds with potential applications against human diseases including cancer, inflammation and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria. While bio-assay directed fractionation leads to the isolation of the biologically active constituents of an organism, we are also interested in the intellectual challenge of solving the structures of new natural products whether they exhibit biological activity or not. Exploitation of bioactive natural products requires access to comprehensive bioassays, for which we have collaborations with leading medical research groups targeting anti-inflammatory, antitumour, antitubercular and antimalarial agents.
In addition to natural products chemistry, the group also has a strong interest in the discovery and development of new classes of antituberculosis and antimalarial agents. These projects combine both aspects of natural product drug discovery as well as rational design and synthesis of new compounds.
- Natural products drug discovery
Marine natural products, the secondary or non-primary metabolites produced by organisms that live in the sea, are of interest to us for two main reasons: as a source of new and unsual organic molecules and as a source of biologically active molecules that can act as templates for the development of new therapeutic agents. We target the isolation of natural products that have activity towards human cancer cell lines, neglected disease targets (Trypanosomiasis, Leishmaniasis, Malaria, Tuberculosis) and inflammatory processes. Bioassay guided fractionation allows the isolation of the biologically active natural products, while the challenge of their structure solution is typically achieved by extensive use of 2-dimensional NMR spectroscopy (including 1H-15N 2-D NMR data sets) and mass spectrometry.
- Exploiting the potential of bioactive natural products
Our pure compound screening projects have identified a number of New Zealand marine organism-sourced natural products that exhibit activity towards cancer and neglected diseases. In order to exploit these findings, we are preparing small libraries of molecules designed around our natural products. These libraries are then screened for biological activity with our collaborators leading to the identified of new analogues with enhanced activity. Several projects are available in this area.
- Natural products as biological tools
Whilst it is possible to isolate potently bioactive natural products, very few of these compounds will ever be of use as pharmaceuticals themselves due to undesirable pharmacokinetic or toxicity problems. Such natural products can still be of tremendous to help understand biological processes, acting as probes or tools for biological chemical studies. This project is currently focused on two families of cytotoxic marine alkaloids, the discorhabdins and the amphimedines. We aim to prepare fluorescently-tagged analogues, to allow cellular localisation studies to be performed, and biotinylated analogues to facilitate 'pull-down' affinity chromatography experiments.
Research group members
- Dr A. Norrie Pearce: Research Fellow.
- Steven Li: Doctoral candidate.
- Roy Lai: Doctoral candidate.
- Melissa Cadelis: Research Fellow.
- Jessica Fleming: Doctoral candidate.
The list of research topics above is not exclusive - please see me if you have interests in these fields.
Areas of expertise
- Organic & Medicinal Chemistry
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Johnson, C. S., Copp, B. R., & Lewis, A. (2019). New psychoactive substances detected at the New Zealand border, 2014-2018. Drug testing and analysis, 11 (2), 341-346. 10.1002/dta.2522
- Carroll, A. R., Copp, B. R., Davis, R. A., Keyzers, R. A., & Prinsep, M. R. (2019). Marine natural products. Natural product reports, 36 (1), 122-173. 10.1039/c8np00092a
- Johnson, C. S., Copp, B. R., & Lewis, A. (2019). New psychoactive substances seized at the New Zealand border. Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences10.1080/00450618.2019.1571102
- Pearce, A. N., Copp, B. R., & Molinski, T. F. (2018). Enantiomeric Variability of Distaminolyne A. Refinement of ECD and NMR Methods for Determining Optical Purity of 1-Amino-2-Alkanols. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24 (1).10.3390/molecules24010090
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Norrie Pearce
- Fong, H. K. H., Cadelis, M. M., Brunel, J. M., Bourguet-Kondracki, M.-L., Barker, D., & Copp, B. R. (2018). Alaninyl variants of the marine natural product halocyamine A and their antibacterial properties. TETRAHEDRON, 74 (48), 6929-6938. 10.1016/j.tet.2018.10.021
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Melissa Cadelis, David Barker
- Harris, E. M., Strope, J. D., Beedie, S. L., Huang, P. A., Goey, A. K. L., Cook, K. M., ... Copp, B. R. (2018). Preclinical Evaluation of Discorhabdins in Antiangiogenic and Antitumor Models. Marine drugs, 16 (7).10.3390/md16070241
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Melissa Cadelis
- van Rensburg, M., Copp, B. R., & Barker, D. (2018). Synthesis and Absolute Stereochemical Reassignment of Mukanadin F: A Study of Isomerization of Bromopyrrole Alkaloids with Implications on Marine Natural Product Isolation. European Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2018 (24), 3065-3074. 10.1002/ejoc.201800422
Other University of Auckland co-authors: David Barker
- Cadelis, M. M., & Copp, B. R. (2018). Investigation of the electrophilic reactivity of the biologically active marine sesquiterpenoid onchidal and model compounds. Beilstein journal of organic chemistry, 14, 2229-2235. 10.3762/bjoc.14.197
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Melissa Cadelis