Universiteit Leiden

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LIC Lecture: Biological applications of anion-selective transmembrane carriers

Monday 26 September 2022
Gorlaeus Building
Einsteinweg 55
2333 CC Leiden


Roberto Quesada studied Chemistry at the University of Oviedo, receiving his PhD in 2002.  He then moved to Trinity College Dublin and the University of Southampton for postdoctoral appointments in the laboratories of Prof. Sylvia Draper and Phil Gale respectively. In 2006 he joined Universidad Autónoma de Madrid as Juan de la Cierva Fellow and then moved to the University of Burgos in 2008 as Ramon y Cajal tenured researcher. He was promoted to Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry in 2012. From 2017 he also took on the role of Director of the Scientific and Technological Park of the University, managing the scientific infrastructure equipment of the University of Burgos. Roberto Quesada leads a research group with interests in synthetic and supramolecular chemistry, with a focus in biological applications. Along with his group and colleagues have contributed to the understanding of the biological applications of small molecule anion transporters.

Roberto Quesada has co-authored more than eighty research papers and has been PI or coordinator of nine research projects with a combined budget in excess of 2 M euros in the last ten years. He maintains collaborations with four different Pharmaceutical/Biotechnological companies and is co-inventor of three patents.


Transmembrane transport of ions is a biological process of paramount importance, playing roles in numerous cellular functions. Indeed, nature has evolved sophisticated mechanisms to facilitate and control the trafficking of ions across biological membranes. Inspired by these examples and functions, supramolecular chemists are developing synthetic systems capable of mimicking this activity.1 Small molecules facilitating transmembrane anion transport, anionophores, represent minimalist mimics of transmembrane proteins and could have potential applications in the treatment of diseases caused by the defective regulation of chloride and bicarbonate transport.2

Moreover, the effects of anion transporters in cell homeostasis and pH regulation offer possibilities to modulate cellular processes and exert cytotoxicity in cancer cells.3 Induced toxicity can also be a viable mechanism to develop novel antimicrobial and/or antivirus agents.4 Insights into the design and transport activity of this type of compounds, their mechanisms of action at the cellular level as well as efforts aimed at assessing their potential to develop future drugs based on this concept will be presented.


  1. J. T. Davis, P. A. Gale, R. Quesada, Chem. Soc. Rev. 2020, 49, 6056-6086; G. Picci, S. Marchesan, C. Caltagirone, Biomedicines 2022, 10(4), 885.
  2. M. Fiore, C. Cossu, V. Capurro, C. Picco, A. Ludovico, M. Mielczarek, I. Carreira-Barral, E. Caci, D. Baroni, R. Quesada, O. Moran, Br. J. Pharmacol., 2019, 176(11), 1764-1779; A. Gianotti, V. Capurro, L. Delpiano, M. Mielczarek, M. García-Valverde, I. Carreira-Barral, A. Ludovico, M. Fiori, D. Baroni, O. Moran, R. Quesada and E. Caci, Int. J. Mol. Sci., 2020, 21(4):1488.
  3. I. Carreira-Barral, C. Rumbo, M. Mielczarek, D. Alonso-Carrillo, E. Herran, M. Pastor, A. Del Pozo, M. García-Valverde and R. Quesada, Chem. Commun., 2019, 55, 10080-10083. R. Herráez, R. Quesada, N. Dahdah, M. Viñas, and T. Vinuesa, Pharmaceutics 2021, 13, 705
  4. S.-H. Park, S.-H. E. N. W. Howe, J. Y. Hyun, L.-J. Chen, I. C. Hwang, G. Vargas-Zuñiga, N. Busschaert, P. A. Gale, J. L. Sessler, I. Shin, Chem. 2019, 5, 2079−2098; M. Pérez-Hernández, C. Cuscó, C. Benítez-García, J. Bonelli, M. Nuevo-Fonoll, A. Soriano, D. Martínez-García, A. Arias-Betancur, M. García-Valverde, M. F. Segura, R. Quesada, J. Rocas, V. Soto-Cerrato, R. Pérez-Tomás, Biomedicines 2021, 9, 508. A. Molero-Valenzuela, P. Fontova, D. Alonso-Carrillo, I. Carreira-Barral, A. Aurora Torres, M. García-Valverde, C. Benítez-García, R. Pérez-Tomás, R. Quesada and V. Soto-Cerrato, Cancers 2022, 14, 3387.
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