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Yara Alenazi

BSc (Hons), MSc

DPhil Student

A broad range of diseases are characterized by inflammation driven by the expression of subsets of CC and CXC-class chemokines, and creates a robust network that has been difficult to therapeutically target using monovalent agents. The preferential binding of tick chemokine binding proteins (CKBPs) to limited subsets of CC or CXC chemokines, could provide a method to polyvalently but precisely target disease-relevant chemokines without unnecessarily affecting irrelevant chemokines, providing an advantage over viral and helminth CKBPs.

My research focuses on identifying and characterising novel CKBP from tick saliva, using the 'Bug-to-Drug' approach. The availability of different tick CKBP that polyvalently target subsets of CC and CXC chemokines provides the opportunity to use them in combination to treat inflammatory diseases characterized by CC and CXC chemokine expression. The development of such combination therapeutics is however complicated by performance issues including risks and benefits of each individual agent in a combination. These considerations prompted us to explore the possibility that the two distinct classes of tick CKBPs could be fused into a single agent, creating what we have termed the 'two-warhead' CKBP, that binds subsets of both CC and CXC chemokines. My current research focuses look at characterising the 'two-warhead' CKBP we have engineered in the laboratory providing a biochemical and functional profile.