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Prescott, Tom A.K.

Job title: 

Research biochemist / assay specialist

Jodrell Laboratory
Sustainable Uses
Joined Kew: 


Foreign languages: 

Neo-Melanesian (fluent), Spanish (conversational), Indonesian (basic conversational), French (basic conversational)

Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc Hons Biochemistry University of Edinburgh 1999
  • PhD Biomedical Sciences University of Edinburgh 2005

The molecular mode of action of cytotoxic plant metabolites from the British flora.

The aim is to find novel chemical entities that selectively target human eukaryotic pathogens and cancer cell lines. A yeast knock out library of 1200 mutants each defective for one copy of a different essential gene is used to investigate the mode of action of purified plant metabolites. Promising metabolites may then be investigated further using human cell lines or fungal pathogens. A second area of interest is in compounds that target the phosphatase enzyme calcineurin which is an important regulator of gene expression in the inflammatory response as well as playing an important role in fungal pathogenesis and cancer metastasis. A calcineurin yeast reporter gene assay has been developed which is used in conjunction with human calcineurin to detect active plant metabolites.

Selected publications: 

Prescott, T.A., Kiapranis, R. & Maciver, S.K. (----). Comparative ethnobotany and in-the-field antibacterial testing of medicinal plants used by the Bulu and inland Kaulong of Papua New Guinea. Journal of Ethnopharmacology (in press, 2011)

Prescott, T.A., Veitch, N.C. & Simmonds, M. (2011). Direct inhibition of calcineurin by caffeoyl phenylethanoid glycosides from Teucrium chamaedrys and Nepeta cataria. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 137(3):1306-1310.

Prescott, T., Bramham, J., Zompro, O. & Maciver, S.K. (2010). Actinidine and glucose from the defensive secretion of the stick insect Megacrania nigrosulfurea. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 37, 759-760.

Zompro, O. & Prescott, T. (2009). Notes on Megacrania nigrosulfurea Redtenbacher, 1908. REDTENBACHER, 1908. Arthropoda 17(1): 44-45.

Prescott, T.A., Sadler, I. H., Kiapranis, R. & Maciver, S.K. (2007). Lunacridine from Lunasia amara is a DNA intercalating topoisomerase II inhibitor. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 109(2):289-94.