Give Me A Brief Summary of what you do
I am a peptide biochemist and computational biologist studying for a PhD in novel peptide therapeutics at the University of Bath.
I'm researching coiled-coil peptides using a combination of computational and wet lab work, with an emphasis on understanding how key interactions play a role in the stability and specificity of protein-protein interaction.
i said brief - 20 words or less
I study how we can mix biochemistry and algorithms to design molecules which could - potentially - target certain forms of cancer.
(It’s a bit more nuanced than that so yeah)
Explain it like i'm somebody who doesn't know what that is
Proteins are a type of molecule in the body that can do a whole bunch of things and are made up of amino acids.
At their simplest, amino acids coming together will form a short chain called a peptide (which, when elongated further and given more structure can form more complex proteins).
Peptides can have all kinds of structures - usually closely related to their function. One sort of structure is an alpha-helix and, in some peptides, alpha-helical regions are key to how the molecules interact.
One multi-helical interaction forms a larger structure known as a coiled-coil. By feeding experimental data into computer based prediction, I'm looking at ways that we can further understand the rules underpinning coiled-coil interactions and how we can effectively create bespoke interactions for specific purposes.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Coiled-coil interactions underpin how certain molecules, known as transcription factors, function. These molecules can be likened to genetic traffic lights. They bind to different regions of DNA and have unique control over how certain genes are expressed.
Certain transcription factors control genes that are linked to cancer pathways and if we can understand how coiled-coils work, it could be the a step in potentially developing new ways of targeting cancer pathways.