Alana Maerivoet

0151 795 54498

Institute of Integrative Biology University of Liverpool

Supervisor: Dr Jill Madine

At undergraduate level I studied Biochemistry at the University of Leeds. It was throughout this time that I gained an interest for working with proteins, especially the structural aspects. I was working on characterising the previously unknown pre-fusion structure of Herpes-Simplex Virus fusion protein, gB, by cryo-electron tomography. Within the electron-microscopy department, there were several people working on characterising the structure of specific amyloid fibrils, which I found particularly interesting. This spurred me to apply for the project I am currently working.

Project Title: Identifying antibodies that target systemic amyloid deposition

My project, working with UCB pharma as my CASE partner, involves identifying antibodies that could target the deposition of proteins that cause systemic amyloidosis. The most common type of this disease is caused by the aggregation of immunoglobulin light chains that are grossly overproduced by a mutant plasma cell. This aggregation into amyloid fibrils causes system-wide damage, to which there is no targeted treatment and very little is known about the initiation and progression of aggregation. This project hopes to screen antibodies against a family of amyloid forming light chains to identify those that bind and potentially stabilise certain structural conformers, giving insight into the pathway itself, and also providing a potential therapeutic target to stop this process.

Other activities

Throughout my first year, I have been involved public engagement events, including a spooky science Halloween event and a meet the scientist day. Both events were aimed to inspire children of a primary school age to get involved in science and see how exciting and interesting it can be.

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