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Serena Vales

DPhil Student

DPhil in Medical Sciences

I am a DPhil student under the supervision of Professor Bhattacharya, Mr Davies and Professor Redwood in the division of Cardiovascular Medicine (CVM).

Although chemokine-induced inflammation protects against infection, many chemokines have been found to drive immunoinflammatory diseases. However, the redundant nature of chemokines creates robustness against therapeutic agents targeting a single chemokine or receptor. Natural chemokine-binding proteins (CKBPs) from ticks and viruses bind multiple chemokines overcoming redundancy. CKBPs are effective in animal models of inflammatory disease but clinical translation has been limited by potential immunogenicity and production costs. Short peptides derived from larger proteins can overcome these limitations, and indeed small peptides derived from chemokines disrupt chemokine dimerisation and are effective in animal models of inflammation. Structural approaches have identified CKBP-peptides that bind several CC-class chemokines, inhibiting chemokine-receptor binding, chemotaxis, and inflammation in vivo. These CKBP-peptides do not have the broad range of chemokine binding needed to overcome redundancy.

My project aims to identify and characterise novel peptides derived from tick and viral CKBPs. These peptides have a broad chemokine binding range to overcome chemokine redundancy and can potentially be developed into therapeutics to be used to treat a range of inflammatory diseases.