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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2021-09-01 - 2024-08-31

The parasite fluke Opisthorchis felinus belongs to the Opisthorchiidae family which also includes Opisthorchis viverrini and Clonorchis sinensis. Millions of people in Asia and Eastern Europe, where these flukes are endemic, are already infected or at risk. The parasites success in infection is often linked with surface oligosaccharides presented to the host. This protein linked glyconjugates also called N- and O-linked glycans play a role either in binding and parasitic infection, or on the immune-host response they trigger in humans. Unfortunately, to date very little is known about the glycoconjugate structures of liver flukes and especially O. felinus glycans. Considering the disease severity caused by the parasite, which can even induce cancers such as cholangiocarcinoma, there is a great need to expand the knowledge on the glycoconjugates structures and their interaction with the immune system. In this project we aim to combine modern and powerful analytical tools such as metabolomics, glycomics, transcriptomics, microbiome, and glycoproteome analysis with coupled online and offline liquid chromatography- mass spectrometry approaches on proteins from (i) adult worms, eggs and excretory products and from (ii) bile juice and faeces from infected patients. The purified glycans will be subject to detailed epitope identification and in vitro cell based assays for a better understanding of the host immune response after parasite infection.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2020-03-01 - 2022-11-30

Plant cell walls consist of a sophisticated composite largely made of several polysaccharide networks with essential functions in the life cycle of the plant. These cell wall polysaccharides receive an enormous interest as sources of sustainable materials and for the production of biofuels. To enhance the economic viability of exploiting biomass as a renewable resource, an increasing number of plants with modified polysaccharide composition are generated. However, a prerequisite to perform targeted genetic modifications is a detailed knowledge of cell wall polysaccharide biosynthesis. We recently produced a glycan microarray equipped with synthetic cell wall oligosaccharides. This microarray provides for the first time the opportunity to develop an assay for the simultaneous screening of various plant glycosyltransferases. The microarray will be incubated with chemically synthesized azido-functionalized sugar nucleotides and putative glycosyltransferases. Any incorporated azido-functionalized monosaccharide will be visualized by subsequent labeling with a fluorescent dye using click-chemistry. Thus, the microarray format of this high-throughput assay will not only be valuable for identifying new glycosyltransferases, but will directly provide information on their substrate specificities.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2021-06-01 - 2022-05-31

Strain and process improvement is one of the most labour-intensive and time-consuming phases of biotechnology process development. High-throughput screening is usually in miniaturized static cultures which compromises scalability, so that further intermediate screening steps are needed. Maturing of existing technology to deal with additional cell culture types (i.e. mammalian cells) and incorporate further analytical developments to support metabolite and product screening requirements are identified as the key steps to creating a technology of commercial value. In this project, we propose to mature an existing µ-screening platform with two major pillars addressing these steps. Firstly, extending the applicability of the module to fermentation technology based on Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cultures. Secondly, to expand the analytical value of the platform using a combination of valve technology and mass spectrometry to develop a fully integrated platform suitable for application in biotechnology facilities.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations