Research Topic: Block of Kv1.3 potassium channel by ShK-like toxins from the parasitic nematode H.polygyrus: a novel therapeutic approach to target autoimmune diseases Qualifications: MSc (Hons) in Medical Biotechnology, University of Perugia BSc in Biological Sciences, University of Perugia Scholarships: University of Kent Vice Chancellor's Research Scholarship
The voltage-activated potassium channel, Kv1.3, plays a critical role in effectory memory T cells implicated in a large number of autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and DMT1. Potassium channels promote calcium signalling in this subset of cells, essential for cytokines production and cellular proliferation. As such Block of Kv1.3 channels is suggested as a useful therapeutic strategy to treat these and other autoimmune diseases. My research is focused on the characterisation of a novel class of ShK-like toxins, extracted from the parasitic nematode Heligmosomoides polygyrus. Recent studies from our collaborators at Imperial College led to the discovery of several proteins released by the parasite during its lifecycle in the host; these proteins, contain the ShK-like domain, known to be shared among all the toxins that we know so far able to block Kv1.3. Using the electrophysiological technique whole cell patch clamp, this project plans to characterise the effect of those proteins on the Channel.
Supervisors: Professor Alistair Mathie and Dr Emma Veale Research Group: Biological Sciences