Dr Wen-Wu Li

Title: Lecturer in Analytical Biochemistry
Phone: +44 (0)1782 674382
Email: w.li@keele.ac.uk
Location: Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine, Keele University,
Guy Hilton Research Centre, Thornburrow Drive, Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 7QB United Kingdom
Role: ISTM Research theme: Therapeutics
Contacting me: By phone or e-mail please.
Wen-Wu_Li_1_160x200

Dr Wen-Wu Li studied Biochemistry at Jilin University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and gained his PhD in 1998 from Zhejiang University, China under the joint supervision of Prof Bogang Li and Prof Yaozu Chen.  He subsequently joined DIAO Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd and CAS in Chengdu to develop anticancer drugs based on natural products (1998-1999).

He was awarded a scholarship by Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) and investigated secondary metabolites and enzymes from plant cell cultures with Prof Dr Wolfgang Barz at the Westfälische Wilhelms Universitat Münster, Germany (1999-2000).  He then researched peptide/protein design and synthesis with Prof Dr Wolfgang Haehnel at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany (2000-2006). From there Dr Li moved to the University of Oxford in England, where he worked with Prof Hagan Bayley FRS and Ben Davis FRS on Chemical Biology of carbohydrates, epigenetic bases and membrane protein pores (2006-2011).

In November 2011 he took up his current post in the Institute for Science & Technology in Medicine (ISTM) at Keele University.

Dr Li is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Phytochemical Society of Europe, European Peptide Society, the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the European Association for Cancer Research.

 

ISTM Research theme: Therapeutics

In our team we are exploring diagnosis and therapy of cancer and infectious diseases using an interdisciplinary approach. 

Drug discovery from nature

Medicines from nature have long been used for the therapy of various kinds of disease. Even today, many drugs are from or derived from natural products. Penicillin is the first  antibiotic discovered in the UK; paclitaxel isolated from yew trees in the USA is a well-known chemotherapy drug for the treatment of different cancers including ovarian, breast and lung cancer; artemisinin (qinghao su, 青蒿素) discovered in China is the first-line therapy against malaria (2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine).

Due to the development of multi-drug resistance in cancers and microbial pathogens, there is an urgent need to discover and develop new medicines with novel mechanisms of action to combat these diseases. Currently, we are exploring anticancer, antibacterial and antimalarial compounds from natural sources, which include traditional Chinese and African medicinal plants, endemic plants and marine organisms from Mauritius. We use various techniques in chemistry (extraction, purification, isolation, structure elucidation using mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, chemical and enzymatic synthesis), pharmacology (mammalian/bacterial cell cultures, cytotoxicity assay, drug metabolism, immunoblotting, flow cytometry, fluorescence/scanning electron microscopy, and epigenetic analysis), and biochemistry (proteomics and target identification). Our aim is to discover and develop novel bioactive natural products and their semi-synthetic analogues as clinical trial candidates, and eventually as safe and effective medicines. 

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Our collaborators: Chenggang Huang (Shanghai), Bogang Li, Jianxin Ji (Chengdu), Vidushi S. Neergheen-Bhujun (Mauritius), James McCullagh, Timothy Claridge (Oxford), Ted Hupp, Neil Carragher, Alexander Kagansky (Edinburgh),  Alan RichardsonPaul Horrocks, Nick Forsyth, Falko P. Drijfhout and Sarah Hart (Keele).

Clinical Biochemistry

Early diagnosis of disease is vital for subsequent therapy. We are interested in the identification and quantification of biochemical biomarkers for bacterial infection and gynaecological conditions. Currently, we use analytical techniques including thermal desorption gas chromatography mass spectrometry, selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry, and high performance liquid chromatography to address these problems in order to understand pathology and provide a non-invasive approach to diagnosis of diseases.

Collaborators: Josep Sulé-Suso and Ying Yang (Keele).

 

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Cover illustration from Dr Li's publication in Nature Chemistry 2010 and frontispiece from Angewandte Chemie 2013.

 

Selected Publications

  • Uche FI, McCullagh J, Claridge T, Richardson A, Li WW. 2018. Synthesis of (aminoalkyl)cycleanine analogues: cytotoxicity, cellular uptake, and apoptosis induction in ovarian cancer cells. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters. doi> link> full text>
  • Cao P, Yang Y, Uche FI, Hart SR, Li W-W, Yuan C. 2018. Coupling Plant-Derived Cyclotides to Metal Surfaces: An Antibacterial and Antibiofilm Study. Int J Mol Sci, vol. 19(3). link> doi> full text>
  • Cao P, Li W, Morris A, Horrocks P, Yuan C, Yang Y. 2018. Investigation of the antibiofilm capacity of peptide-modified stainless steel. Royal Society Open Science. doi> link> full text>
  • Johnson-Ajinwo OR, Ullah I, Mbye H, Richardson A, Horrocks P, Li W-W. 2018. The synthesis and evaluation of thymoquinone analogues as anti-ovarian cancer and antimalarial agents. Bioorg Med Chem Lett, vol. 28(7), 1219-1222. link> doi> full text>
  • Aldulaimi O, Uche FI, Hameed H, Mbye H, Ullah I, Drijfhout F, Claridge TDW, Horrocks P, Li W-W. 2017. A characterization of the antimalarial activity of the bark of Cylicodiscus gabunensis Harms. J Ethnopharmacol, vol. 198, 221-225. link> doi> full text>

Full Publications List show

Journal Articles

  • Uche FI, McCullagh J, Claridge T, Richardson A, Li WW. 2018. Synthesis of (aminoalkyl)cycleanine analogues: cytotoxicity, cellular uptake, and apoptosis induction in ovarian cancer cells. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters. doi> link> full text>
  • Cao P, Yang Y, Uche FI, Hart SR, Li W-W, Yuan C. 2018. Coupling Plant-Derived Cyclotides to Metal Surfaces: An Antibacterial and Antibiofilm Study. Int J Mol Sci, vol. 19(3). link> doi> full text>
  • Cao P, Li W, Morris A, Horrocks P, Yuan C, Yang Y. 2018. Investigation of the antibiofilm capacity of peptide-modified stainless steel. Royal Society Open Science. doi> link> full text>
  • Johnson-Ajinwo OR, Ullah I, Mbye H, Richardson A, Horrocks P, Li W-W. 2018. The synthesis and evaluation of thymoquinone analogues as anti-ovarian cancer and antimalarial agents. Bioorg Med Chem Lett, vol. 28(7), 1219-1222. link> doi> full text>
  • Uche FI, Abed MN, Abdullah MI, Drijfhout FP, McCullagh J, Claridge TWD, Richardson A, Li W-W. 2017. Isochondodendrine and 2 '-norcocsuline: additional alkaloids from Triclisia subcordata induce cytotoxicity and apoptosis in ovarian cancer cell lines. RSC ADVANCES, vol. 7(70), 44154-44161. link> doi> full text>
  • Weli HK, Akhtar R, Chang Z, Li W-W, Cooper J, Yang Y. 2017. Advanced glycation products' levels and mechanical properties of vaginal tissue in pregnancy. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol, vol. 214, 78-85. link> doi> full text>
  • Beesoo R, Bhagooli R, Neergheen-Bhujun VS, Li W-W, Kagansky A, Bahorun T. 2017. Antibacterial and antibiotic potentiating activities of tropical marine sponge extracts. COMPARATIVE BIOCHEMISTRY AND PHYSIOLOGY C-TOXICOLOGY & PHARMACOLOGY, vol. 196, 81-90. link> doi> full text>
  • Aldulaimi O, Uche FI, Hameed H, Mbye H, Ullah I, Drijfhout F, Claridge TDW, Horrocks P, Li W-W. 2017. A characterization of the antimalarial activity of the bark of Cylicodiscus gabunensis Harms. J Ethnopharmacol, vol. 198, 221-225. link> doi> full text>
  • Uche FI, Drijfhout FP, McCullagh J, Richardson A, Li WW. 2016. Cytotoxicity Effects and Apoptosis Induction by Bisbenzylisoquinoline Alkaloids from Triclisia subcordata. Phytotherapy Research, vol. 30(9), 1533-1539. doi> link> full text>
  • Li WW, Johnson-Ajinwo OR, Uche FI. 2016. Advances of Plant-Derived Natural Products in Ovarian Cancer Therapy. International Journal of Cancer Research and Prevention, vol. 9(1), 81-105. link> full text>
  • Aldulaimi O and Li WW. 2016. Fingerprint of Tiger Balm® By Thermal Desorption Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry. Pharmacogn. J., vol. 8(3), 230-233. doi> link> full text>
  • Johnson-Ajinwo OR, Richardson A, Li W-W. 2015. Cytotoxic effects of stem bark extracts and pure compounds from Margaritaria discoidea on human ovarian cancer cell lines. Phytomedicine, vol. 22(1), 1-4. link> doi>
  • Johnson-Ajinwo OR and Li W-W. 2014. Stable isotope dilution gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for quantification of thymoquinone in black cumin seed oil. J Agric Food Chem, vol. 62(24), 5466-5471. link> doi>
  • Li WW, Gong L, Bayley H. 2013. Single molecule detection of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine through chemical modification and nanopore analysis. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl, vol. 52(16), 4350-4355. doi>
  • Li WW, Claridge T, Li Q, Wolmald M, Davis B, Bayley H. 2011. Tuning the cavity of cyclodextrins: altered sugar adaptors in protein pores. J. Am. Chem. Soc., vol. 133, 1987-2001. doi>
  • Lu S, Li W-W, Rotem D, Mikhailova E, Bayley H. 2010. A primary hydrogen-deuterium isotope effect observed at the single-molecule level. NATURE CHEMISTRY, vol. 2(11), 921-928. link> doi>
  • Albrecht T, Li W-W, Haehnel W, Hildebrandt P, Ulstrup J. 2006. Voltammetry and in situ scanning tunnelling microscopy of de novo designed heme protein monolayers on Au(111)-electrode surfaces. BIOELECTROCHEMISTRY, vol. 69(2), 193-200. link> doi>
  • Li W-W, Hellwig P, Ritter M, Haehnel W. 2006. De novo design, synthesis, and characterization of quinoproteins. CHEMISTRY-A EUROPEAN JOURNAL, vol. 12(27), 7236-7245. link> doi>
  • Li WW and Barz W. 2006. Structure and accumulation of phenolics in elicited Echinacea purpurea cell cultures. PLANTA MEDICA, vol. 72(3), 248-254. link> doi>
  • Li WW, Heinze J, Haehnel W. 2005. Site-specific binding of quinones to proteins through thiol addition and addition-elimination reactions. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, vol. 127(17), 6140-6141. link> doi>
  • Albrecht T, Li WW, Ulstrup J, Haehnel W, Hildebrandt P. 2005. Electrochemical and spectroscopic investigations of immobilized de novo designed heme proteins on metal electrodes. CHEMPHYSCHEM, vol. 6(5), 961-970. link> doi>
  • Li WW and Barz W. 2005. Biotechnological production of two new 8,4 '-oxynorneolignans by elicitation of Echinacea purpurea cell cultures. TETRAHEDRON LETTERS, vol. 46(17), 2973-2977. link> doi>
  • Gao XP, Li BG, Zhou J, Li WW, Zhong SD, Tan WD. 2000. Antitumor activities and induction of apoptosis by triptolide. Natural Product Research and Development, vol. 12, 18-20. link>
  • Li WW, Li BG, Chen YZ. 1999. Sesquiterpene alkaloids from Tripterygium hypoglaucum. PHYTOCHEMISTRY, vol. 50(6), 1091-1093. link> doi>
  • Li WW, Li BG, Chen YZ. 1998. Oligostilbenes from Vitis betulifolia. PHYTOCHEMISTRY, vol. 49(5), 1393-1394. link> doi>
  • Li WW, Li YF, Ding LS, Li CL, Li BG. 1998. Quantitative determination of oligostilbenes in Grape (Vitis L.) species by HPLC. Chinese Traditional and Herbal Drugs, vol. 5, 301-303. doi> link>
  • Li WW, Li BG, Chen YZ. 1998. Flexuosol A, a new tetrastilbene from Vitis flexuosa. JOURNAL OF NATURAL PRODUCTS, vol. 61(5), 646-647. link> doi>
  • Li WW, Li BG, Chen YZ. 1998. Oligostilbenes from Vitis wilsonii. Chinese Journal of Applied and Environmental Biology, vol. 4(2), 28-31. link>
  • Li WW, Ding LS, Li BG. 1997. A new phenol glycoside from Ampelopsis chaffanjonii. Natural Product Research and Development, vol. 10(2), 19-20. link>
  • Li WW, Li BG, Chen YZ. 1999. A new nor-sesquiterpene from Tripterygium wilfordii. Chinese Journal of Applied and Environmental Biology, vol. 5(3), 268-274. link>
  • Liao X, Peng SL, Li WW, Ding LS. 1997. Chemical constituents of Rabdosia adenoloma. Chinese Journal of Applied and Environmental Biology, vol. 3(2), 154-157. link>
  • Li WW, Li BG, Chen YZ. 1998. Diterpenoids from Rabdosia lihsienensis. PHYTOCHEMISTRY, vol. 49(8), 2433-2435. link> doi>
  • Li WW, Ding LS, Li BG, Chen YZ. 1996. Oligostilbenes from Vitis heyneana. PHYTOCHEMISTRY, vol. 42(4), 1163-1165. link> doi> link>
  • Li WW, Li BG, Chen YZ. 1998. Oligostilbentes from Vitis davidii. CHINESE CHEMICAL LETTERS, vol. 9(8), 735-736. link> link>
  • Li WW, Ding LS, Li BG. 1996. Studies on the Chemical Constituents of the Root of Boehmeird nivea (L) Gaud. Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi = Zhongguo zhongyao zazhi = China journal of Chinese materia medica, vol. 7. link>
  • Li WW, Li BG, Ding LS, Chen YZ. 1998. The chemical constituents of Rabdosia coetsa. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology, vol. 40(5), 461-465. link> link>
  • Gu HM, Li WW, Li BG. 2000. The effect of Vitis oligostilbenes on scavenging oxygen radicals. Chinese Journal of Applied & Environmental Biology, vol. 6(1), 83-85. link>

Chapters

  • Li WW, Johnson-Ajinwo OR, Uche FI. 2015. Potential of phytochemicals and their derivatives in the treatment of ovarian cancer. In Handbook on Ovarian Cancer: Risk Factors, Therapies and Prognosis. Collier BR (Ed.). Nova Science publishers, USA.

Other

  • Johnson-Ajinwo OR, Richardson A, Li W-W. 2017. Identification and evaluation of anticancer compounds from three Nigerian plants used in traditional medicines. BIOCHEMICAL PHARMACOLOGY (vol. 139, p. 128). link> doi> full text>
  • Uche FI, Abed M, Abdullah MI, Drijfhout FP, McCullagh J, Claridge TWD, Richardson A, Li W-W. 2017. Isolation, identification and anti-cancer activity of minor alkaloids from Triclisia subcordata Oliv. BIOCHEMICAL PHARMACOLOGY (vol. 139, p. 112). link> doi> full text>
  • Fadayomi IE, Forsyth N, Li W-W. 2017. Role of sesquiterpene lactones against human ovarian cancer. BIOCHEMICAL PHARMACOLOGY (vol. 139, pp. 134-135). link> doi>
  • Aldulaimi O and Li WW. 2016. Antibacterial effects of the essential oil from flower buds of Magnolia biondii Pamp. PLANTA MEDICA (vol. 82). link> doi> full text>
  • Johnson-Ajinwo OR, Ullah I, Lee C, Raman H, Ellerby N, Horrocks P, Li WW. 2015. Anti-Malarial Activities of Margaritaria discoidea and Other Nigerian Medicinal Plants. PSNA. link>
  • Johnson-Ajinwo OR, Richardson A, Li WW. 2015. Design, Synthesis, Drug-Likeness and Anti-ovarian Cancer Activity of Thymoquinone Analogues. link>
  • Aldulaimi O, Horrocks P, Li WW. 2015. Antimicrobial activities and chemical compositions of Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth. and Perilla frutescens (L.) Britt. in a traditional Chinese medicine formula. Nutrition and Medicine (vol. 204, pp. 497-498). ISSN: 2195-0083. doi> link>
  • Uche FI, Li WW, Richardson A, Greenhough TJ. 2014. Anticancer activities of cyclotides from Viola yedeonsis Makino (Violaceae). PLANTA MEDICA (vol. 80, p. 818). link>
  • Uche F, Li WW, Richardson A, Greenhough TJ. 2014. Anti-ovarian cancer activities of alkaloids from Triclisia subcordata olive (Menispermecaea). PLANTA MEDICA (vol. 80, p. 813). link>
  • Aldulaimi O and Li WW. 2013. Analysis of volatile compounds in phytomedicines using thermal desorption gas chromatography mass spectroscopy. Planta Medica: natural products and medicinal plant research (vol. 79, p. PK25). Georg Thieme Verlag. doi> link>
  • Li WW, Johnson-Ajinwo OR, Siddique MR, Bajana B, Sulé-Suso J, Richardson A. 2013. Anti-cancer thymoquinone from Nigella sativa. Planta Medica: natural products and medicinal plant research (vol. 79, p. SL71). Georg Thieme Verlag. doi> link>
  • Li WW. 2007. Cysteine knot peptides from spider venom activate rather than inhibit the TRPV1 channel.
  • Li WW and Haehnel W. 2006. Chemical engineering of proteins using small cofactor. JOURNAL OF PEPTIDE SCIENCE (vol. 12, p. 102).
  • Li W-W and Haehnel W. 2005. Chemical synthesis of electron transfer protein with flavin, quinone and heme. Peptides 2004, Proceedings (pp. 46-47). link>
  • Li W, Ritter M, Hellwig P, Heinze J, Haehnel W. 2004. De novo design, synthesis and properties of model quinoproteins. Peptide Revolution: Genomics, Proteomics & Therapeutics (pp. 303-304). link>
  • Li W, Carell T, Haehnell W. 2004. Design and synthesis of electron transfer proteins with flavin, heme and quinone. Peptide Revolution: Genomics, Proteomics & Therapeutics (pp. 265-266). link>
  • Li WW, Ritter M, Hellmich P, Heinze J, Haehnel W. 2003. De novo design, synthesis and properties of quinoproteins. BIOPOLYMERS (vol. 71, p. 309). link>
  • Li WW, Carell T, Haehnel W. 2003. Design and synthesis of electron transfer proteins with flavin, quinone and heme. BIOPOLYMERS (vol. 71, p. 315). link>
  • Li WW, Lu S, Bayley H. A Primary Hydrogen-Deuterium Isotope Effect Observed at the Single-molecule Level. link>
  • Uche FI, Drijfhout F, McCullagh J, Richardson A, Li WW. 2016. Cytotoxicity effects and apoptosis induction by cycleanine and tetrandrine. Planta Med (vol. 81, pp. S1-S381). link> doi> full text>
  • Li WW, Sommerhalter M, Lubitz W, Carell T, Haehnel W. De novo design and synthesis of quinoproteins for light induced electron transfer. Journal of Peptide Research (vol. 8, p. L25).
  • Wang DY, Gao XP, Li WW, Li BG. 2000. Preparation of derivatives of triptolide for use in treatment of cancers.

Postgraduate course

LSC 40017   Introduction to Scientific Research (Module Manager)

Master courses in Biomedical Engineering (BME) and Cell & Tissue Engineering

MTE-40025   Molecular Techniques: Application in Tissue Engineering (Module Co-ordinator)

MTE-40029   Medical Equipment and Technology Services Management (Contributor)

Undergraduate Programme organiser for annual Iman University students visit.

Dr Li is a Fellow of the HEA and a member of the ISTM postgraduate research (PGR) committee.  He has completed the Postgraduate Certificates in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and Teaching with Technology.

Memberships of professional societies:

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)
  • Royal Society of Chemistry
  • European Peptide Society
  • Phytochemical Society of Europe
  • Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences

The Royal Society

The Royal Society of Chemistry

North Staffordshire Medical Institute

Nigerian ETF

Niger Delta Development Commission

Nigerian Tertiary Education Trust Fund

Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research

Keele University - Medical Research Council (MRC) Centenary Award

 

Current PhD Students

Fadayomi Idowu Eniafe Fadayomi (i.e.fadayomi@keele.ac.uk)

Rakad Al-Jumaily (co-supervision) (r.m.al-jumaily@keele.ac.uk)

Current Visiting PhD Student

Nawraj Rummun, University of Mauritius (n.rajeevr10@gmail.com)

MSc Student

Peter Goski (w0f56@students.keele.ac.uk)

Group Members

May 2017 with our collaborator, Vidushi S Neergheen-Bhujun, from Mauritius.

 

Previous Students

Fidelia I. Uche (PhD, 2012 -2016)

Okiemute Rosa Johnson-Ajinwo (PhD, 2012-2017)

Omar Aldulaimi (PhD, 2013-2017)

Pan Cao (visit PhD, Wuhan University of Technology, China, 2016-2017)

Sarra Maarfia (visit PhD, Larbi Ben M’Hidi University, Algeria, 2016)

Rima Beesoo (visit PhD, University of Mauritius, 2016)

Suliman Alnamlah (visit UG, 2016, Saudi Arabia)

Abdulrahman Alomair (visit UG, 2016, Saudi Arabia)

Firas Alotaibi (visit UG, 2016, Saudi Arabia)

Neha Sharma (visit PhD, Indian Institute of Integrative Medicines, 2015)

Leila Assad (UG, 2015)

Nawaf Almaqibal (visit UG, 2015, Saudi Arabia)

Aloanizy H (visit UG, 2015, Saudi Arabia)

Ahmad B Tawakuli (MSc, 2014)

Muzaini AL (visit UG, 2014, Saudi Arabia)

Qahtani AL (visit UG, 2014, Saudi Arabia)

Salmanali S AlanaziI (visit UG, 2013, Saudi Arabia)

Abudmohsen Shawan Albaqami (visit UG, 2013, Saudi Arabia)

Bhargavi Prasad Bajana (MSc, 2012)  

Awards to PhD Students

  • Okiemute Rosa Johnson-Ajinwo, Best poster award, “Design, synthesis, Drug-likeness and and anti-ovarian cancer activities of thymoquinone analogues”. Annual meeting of the Phytochemical Society of North America, 2015, Illinois, USA
  • Omar Aldulaimi, Best poster award, “Synthesis and antibacterial effects of novel gallic acid derivatives”. 6th APS International PharmSci Conference. 2015, Nottingham, UK
  • Omar Aldulaimi, BBSRC High Value Chemicals from Plants (HVCfP) network training fund

Informal enquiries regarding PhD or MPhil postgraduate studies in my team can be made by email w.li@keele.ac.uk prior to the formal application process.

Potential Funding Sources

Commonwealth Scholarships for Master’s and PhD study – developing Commonwealth country citizens.