The Chain explores the lives, careers, research, and discoveries of protein engineers and scientists, the impact their work is having on the field, and where the industry is headed. Tune in to stay up-to-date on the newest advancements and to hear the stories that are impacting the world of biologics.
Episode 32: Young Scientist Spotlight: Cryo-EM to Uncover Structures of Coronavirus Spike Glycoproteins
Linoleic acid is an essential free fatty acid in the human body and its metabolic pathway is central to immune regulation and inflammation – which are also key symptoms in COVID-19. Using cryo-electron microscopy, Christine Toelzer’s research identified linoleic acid bound to a hydrophobic pocket of the SARS-CoV-2 glycoprotein. Christine shares her thoughts on how these findings will contribute to the fight against COVID-19 and how her lab work has been altered by the pandemic. Christine also discusses the future of other young scientists coming up in the protein science space.
Christine Toelzer is currently a Research Associate at the University of Bristol. After a M.Sc. in biology and an additional M.Sc. in physics she continued with PhD work in biochemistry at the University of Cologne. Her research has always focused on structure function relationships, starting with structure determination of biotechnologically important proteins by x-ray crystallography, magnetic structure determination of inorganic compounds by neutron diffraction and recently using electron cryo-microscopy to obtain the structure of large protein complexes involved in transcription and diseases. In the last year (2020) she started coronavirus related work to contribute to the global effort aimed at better understanding the virus and uncover its potential weaknesses.
About the Young Scientist Keynote Award:
This recognition honors a young scientist from the international protein science community who has contributed to scientific advancement and innovation in this field. Nominations were solicited from across academic and industry research groups in the fall of 2020, and the finalists were determined through the votes and input of our 15-person advisory panel.
Episode 31: The Role of Tags in Your Purification Toolbox w/ Dennis Karthaus
In this episode we talk with Dennis Karthaus of IBA Lifesciences about his early science interests and pursing his PhD. His passion for marine biology eventually led him on a path to study biotechnology, where he now focuses on protein expression and purification. Specifically, tag-based purification that can help researchers increase lab productivity. But, as our guest explains, scientists should consider their specific bottlenecks and applications for the protein of interest, to determine if a tag is right for them.
Episode 30: Recombinant Methods to Generate Antibodies Against COVID-19 – Roundtable Discussion
In a roundtable discussion, three experts bring perspectives on different methods for generating antibodies, including generating antibodies from naive libraries, patients, and immunizations. They discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the advantages of refocusing on infectious disease research. As well as the importance of having ready immune libraries and immunized mice, plus other approaches, ahead of any future infectious disease outbreak.
Episode 29: Efficient Chromatography Devices for Purification Requirements
The purification requirements in the biopharmaceutical industry will be even more demanding in the coming years due to increased awareness of product-related impurities like oligomers, variants, positional isomers, and glycoforms. These impurities need to be separated from the final product. Dr. Raja Ghosh’s work focuses on the design and development of efficient chromatography devices that combine high-speed with high-resolution in separation. He speaks with Dr. David Wood of the Ohio State University about how the chromatography devices he is developing address these challenges.
Episode 28: Chasing Interleukin-2 from Academia to Industry w/ Willem Overwijk
On this episode of The Chain, Dr. Willem Overwijk shares his personal experience of his recent transition from academia to industry, and the differences between the two. Dr. Overwijk moved to industry, in part, to follow his research interest in a specific molecule that he had been working on since graduate studies: interleukin-2. Thanks to advances in protein engineering, this once ultra-potent molecule now can be administered with lower toxicity while still being an effective cancer therapy. We discuss IL-2, plus the exciting future of protein engineering in immuno-oncology.
Episode 27: Human VH Domains – Finding Antibodies to Treat COVID-19 and Beyond
Dr. Dimiter Dimitrov, Director of the Center for Antibody Therapeutics at the University of Pittsburgh, sits down with The Chain to discuss his research and its relevance to the current pandemic. His work focuses on human VH domains, which in contrast to the animal antibody domains, like llama and shark, may have lower probability of immunogenicity. Dr. Dimitrov helps develop several such domains, most recently against SARS2, and one of which that is in production for evaluation in human clinical trials. Beyond COVID-19, Dr. Dimitrov explains that clinical trials for various cancer-related proteins and HIV are also underway, showing the vast potential for domains both for industry growth and life-saving therapies.