Andrew Chan

Andrew Chan

Dr

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Biographical details

Dr Chan obtained his PhD (EPSRC Industrial CASE AWARD 2004, Supervisor: Prof Sergei G. Kazarian) from Imperial College London. He became a research associate in Prof Kazarian's group between 2004 and 2012 including time as an EPSRC Life Science Interface (LSI) fellow between 2006 and 2009. While an EPSRC LSI fellow, Dr Chan spent 1 year (2007) in Rutgers University, Newark, USA, with Prof Richard Mendelsohn's group as a visiting researcher. In 2012, Dr Chan acquired the Lectureship in Pharmaceutical Molecular Spectroscopy in the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science at King’s College London. He is the programme director of the Pharmaceutical Analysis, Technology and Biopharmaceuticals MSc course and the Education Lead for the School in the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science. He is a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Honorary Event Secretary of the Joint Pharmaceutical and Analysis Group (JPAG) and a member of the Editorial Board for the journal Scientific Reports.

Dr Chan has published over 90 peer-reviewed research articles and book chapters primarily in the development of novel applications of Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy for testing pharmaceutical and biological systems including living cells. Dr Chan has been awarded the Weinberg Prize in 2004 (Imperial College London, Department of Chemical Engineering) for his PhD and the Hounsfield poster prize in 2009 (Imperial College London) for his bio-spectroscopic research. Since gaining his lectureship at King’s, Dr Chan research has been supported by the Royal Society, EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC and the Diamond Light Source. He currently has an h-index of 37 according to the Web Of Knowledge.

You can follow updates from Dr Chan on Twitter @IResearch_KAC, Linkedin and Researchgate.  

Research interests

2001-2012

In his early research, Dr Chan developed many new infrared spectroscopic imaging and Raman applications, particularly using the attenuated total reflection (ATR) FTIR imaging, to study a wide range of pharmaceutical and biological systems. These include label-free imaging of drug distributions in compacted pharmaceutical tablets, dissolutions of pharmaceutical formulations in water, stabilities of pharmaceutical substances under controlled environments in a high-throughput manner as well as diffusions of chemicals in polymer film/fibre and biological tissues such as hair and skin, composite materials, microfluidic systems and live cells. He has also developed expertise in applying confocal Raman to obtain depth profiles of samples and using tip-enhanced Raman to study carbon nanotubes.

2012-current

Recently, Dr Chan’s research is mainly focused on the application of FTIR to study how living cells interact with pharmaceutical substances.

Quantification of drug diffusion in live cells

Quantifying the rate and the amount of drug entering live cells is an essential part of the medicine development process. Infrared spectroscopy is a label-free, chemically selective tool for analysing the composition of live cells in culture that has the potential to quantify, in situ, the amount of drug entering living cells in a non-destructive manner.

However, the strong absorbance of water in parts of the mid-IR spectral regions is one of the main barriers for using FTIR spectroscopy to study living cells due to:

1)      Live cells are often bathed in medium which makes FTIR measurement very difficult

2)      Live cells contains ~70% water

As a result, live cell measurements using FTIR often have limited sensitivity and were generally regarded as not suitable for quantifying drugs in live cells.

To improve the sensitivity and the detection limit of FTIR method for live cell measurements, such that it will be suitable to analyse some cancer drugs in living cell at therapeutic relevant level, Dr Chan’s laboratory has applied a multi bounce ATR method to optimised the path length and an optical filter to improve the efficiency in the collection of light. Using these novel adaptations it was possible to quantify 20 micromolar of fluorouracil (a widely used cancer drug) in cell culture medium using a standard FTIR instrument and it was possible to quantify and measure the flux of fluorouracil in situ in living cells treated with 80 micromolar of drug. These are therapeutic relevant concentration levels which were not detectable using standard FTIR approaches.

Drug-cell interaction studies
Using these novel adaptations Dr Chan has demonstrated it is possible to quantify 20 micromolar of fluorouracil (a widely used cancer drug) in cell culture medium using a standard FTIR instrument and it was possible to quantify and measure the flux of fluorouracil in situ in living cells treated with 80 micromolar of drug. These are therapeutic relevant concentration levels which were not detectable using standard FTIR approaches.

He has also developed and applied live cell FTIR methods to study cells explosed in different anticancer agents and phospholipid inducers to understand cell toxicity. He has also used the method to invesitage the effect of anti-diabetic drugs on diabetic liver cells.   

High resolution FTIR imaging of living cell 
Recently Dr Chan has been collaborating with scientists from the Diamond Light Source to explore the potential to image living cells at sub-wavelength spatial resolution. He uses solid immersion technique to increase the numerical aperture of existing objectives and combines it with high brightness synchrotron FTIR microscopic method to achieve high signal to noise, high resolution imaging. The advantage of this approach is that it allows the study of chemical components inside living cells at a sub-cellular level, which can help to better understand cellular biological process but it is a challenging task.

Microplastics in cells
Dr Chan has recently started to apply the developed live cell spectroscopic method to study the interactions between living cells and microplastics. In collaboration with scientists from Imperial College London, they have developed protocol to study the effect of various microplastics to cells. 

Bacterial infection in cells
Dr Chan's group has started to collaborate with scientists from Nottingham University to investigate the effect of bacteria in cells using the techniques developed in his laboratory. He combines the power of machine learning with spectroscopy to extract detailed information about the biochemical changes in cells after infection. 

Research interests (short)

In his early research, Dr Chan developed many new infrared spectroscopic imaging and Raman applications, particularly using the attenuated total reflection (ATR) FTIR imaging, to study a wide range of pharmaceutical and biological systems. These include label-free imaging of drug distributions in compacted pharmaceutical tablets, dissolutions of pharmaceutical formulations in water, stabilities of pharmaceutical substances under controlled environments in a high-throughput manner as well as diffusions of chemicals in polymer film/fibre and biological tissues such as hair and skin, composite materials, microfluidic systems and live cells. He has also developed expertise in applying confocal Raman to obtain depth profiles of samples and using tip-enhanced Raman to study carbon nanotubes. 

Recently, Dr Chan’s research is mainly focused on the application of FTIR to study how living cells interact with pharmaceutical substances and techniques to improve spatial resolution and specificity of FTIR.

You can follow updates from Dr Chan on Twitter @IResearch_KAC, Linkedin and Researchgate.

Biographical details

Travel grant

We would like to acknowledge the Analytical Chemistry Trust Fund (Royal Society of Chemistry) for their support of an overseas conference travel grant of £600 for student Helena Friedrich in 2023.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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