Antibodies are one of our major lines of defence against infection and we can create them very quickly to help incapacitate a multitude of biological invaders. Humans do this by changing the part of the antibody that recognises the invading pathogen, though a process of rapid, natural mutation. Protein engineers have learned to mimic this process in the laboratory to create synthetic antibodies for use in both therapy and fundamental research.
In Professor Anna Hine's lecture, she will start from the basics of molecular biology – how instructions in our DNA blueprints are used to make proteins and how scientists can use that knowledge to create new and useful synthetic proteins not available to us in nature’s repertoire. Akin to the natural mutation of antibodies, protein engineers can make vast numbers of tiny variations of a protein such as an antibody. They do this to find the proverbial “needle in a haystack” – a protein (or antibody) that does exactly what is needed.
During the lecture, we will contemplate the vast numbers involved in protein engineering and present how our Aston-based inventions have made the creation of DNA (and thus protein) “libraries” as efficient as possible. We will then examine the ensuing problem of how to find the few proteins that we really want from within a protein library. This includes collaborating with experts who specialise in computer-assisted library design, and also working with those who have developed the latest methods to search the libraries that we make.
Finally, we will look at the many variations of natural antibodies that scientists can create, both for therapy and research and how for research use, our latest collaborative projects are starting to move beyond the antibody itself.
This is a hybrid event. You can choose to attend in-person or online. If registering to attend online, you will be sent a link closer to the time.