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Protein-carbohydrate interactions: towards novel heparin/heparan sulfate-based glycopharmaceuticals

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Powell
    Dr Francesca Giuntini
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Protein interactions are central to most processes in biology. Heparan sulfates (HS) are highly negatively charged, sulfated carbohydrates found on cell surfaces and in the extracellular matrix of animals. They interact with hundreds of proteins, hence regulate many crucial biological processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation and migration. They also act as cellular receptors for numerous microbial pathogens, including bacteria (e.g. staphylococcus aureus) and viruses (e.g. herpes simplex). As a result of these activities, HS-protein interactions are a target for therapeutics and diagnostics for cancer and inflammatory, infectious cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. In fact, heparin, which is a subclass of the HS family, is the world’s largest selling pharmaceutical by weight, being used for over 70 years to prevent blood clotting. HS also has potential in medical device, wound healing, tissue engineering and stem cell applications.

Unfortunately, understanding of protein-HS/heparin interactions is limited, preventing full exploitation of these carbohydrates. According to the student’s interests, we will seek to study suitable interactions using a combination of approaches that may include: bioinformatics, cell culture assays, protein interaction assays (e.g. ELISAs), bioconjugation, chromatography, NMR, mass spectrometry, carbohydrate modification, small molecule synthetic chemistry and protein expression/purification.

Liverpool John Moores University has a comprehensive development program for postgraduate researchers (https://www2.ljmu.ac.uk/RGSO/training/index.htm).

One of the top 3 cities to visit in the world according to the Rough Guide 2014 and voted the most cultural city in the UK by Group Leisure, Liverpool with its unique attractions, exciting events, world class sport offerings, unrivalled musical heritage and famously warm welcome is the ideal place to live. As a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the first UK city outside London to be awarded the famous Blue Plaques by English Heritage and previously The European Capital of Culture, the city offers blockbuster exhibitions, super-sized street theatre and world-class music festivals that have catapulted the city onto the world stage. From the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the oldest symphony orchestra in the UK, to the world-conquering Beatles, two internationally-famous football teams, and more galleries and museums than any UK city outside of London, plus an eclectic social scene of cinemas, bars and restaurants, Liverpool is an inspirational place to work and study.

Enquires are welcome from students that have/can obtain their own funding.
You must have or expect to obtain at least an upper second class (2:1) honours degree and/or a Master’s degree in Biochemistry or a related discipline. If English is not your first language and you are not an EU student, you will also need to provide evidence of competence in English language (ILETS 6.5).

For an informal discussion, please contact Dr Andrew Powell.
E-mail: [email protected]

Funding Notes

Enquires are welcome from students that have/can obtain their own funding.
You must have or expect to obtain at least an upper second class (2:1) honours degree and/or a Master’s degree in Biochemistry or a related discipline. If English is not your first language and you are not an EU student, you will also need to provide evidence of competence in English language (ILETS 6.5).

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