[Event] E-Clareity evening: Mathematical genomics and Retargeting Immunity
Welcome to the first Clareity event of Michaelmas term 2020! On Thursday 15th October at 7pm we will be hosting (by zoom) Lena Morrill talking about mathematical genomics and understanding mutational processes, while our very own social sec JoJo Benn will discuss retargeting immunity in treating Dementia. Talk abstracts are below, and a zoom link will be added shortly!
Lena Morrill – The dynamics of mutational processes
Although our attention has shifted towards Covid-19, cancer is arguably the 21st century disease par excellence, causing a sixth of global deaths, affecting people of all age groups, and, in many aspects, confusing scientists with its obscure mechanisms to survive inside the patient who carries it.What differentiates a cancer cell from a normal cell is the set of mutations that it harbours. (If a genome were a book, a mutation would be a typo. In a cancer genome it’s sometimes extremely difficult to understand the plot.) Each mutation is created by some mutational process – examples of which are UV light, or tobacco smoke – and each mutational process tends to generate particular types of mutation. (To continue the simile, the typing mistakes you make when you are tired are different from those you get when the cat sits on the keyboard.) In my PhD I use computational methods to determine whether there is a change over time in the processes that generate mutations.
JoJo Benn – Retargeting immunity against pathogenic proteins in dementia
Dementia is a crippling neurological condition which robs those afflicted of their mental faculties and puts enormous strain on those close to them. Currently affecting roughly 50 million people worldwide, the prevalence of dementia is predicted to triply by 2050. This looming increase in cases, coupled with the fact that there are currently no disease modifying treatments for Dementia, means that finding potential therapeutics has become a priority area of Neuroscientific research.Dementia can be caused be many different conditions within the brain, the most common of these being Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). AD, alongside many other dementia causing diseases, is believed to be caused by the aggregation of normally healthy proteins within the cells of the brain. These protein aggregates are hypothesised to spread like a virus through the brain, leading to the widespread death of the brain cells. Many recent attempts at creating AD therapeutics have focused on targeting these protein aggregates. The most promising candidates are those based upon antibodies, a natural part of the bodies immune system against invading microbes. The aim of my PhD is to utilise other elements of our immune system to augment the potency of such antibody based treatments in tackling these dementia causing protein aggregates.
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