The role of sialic acid in pathological cell communication and signaling
Thomas Haselhorst, Griffith University
The University of Bremen and the Institute for Glycomics (Griffith University) share a common interest: The role of sialic acid in pathological cell communication and signaling. Sialic acids (Sia) are glycan components playing pivotal roles in the regulation of immune system, tumour development, and pathogen interactions with higher animals, such as viruses and parasites binding to Sia on cell surfaces to initiate infections.
Important examples for proteins binding Sia are Siglecs on immune cells and trans-sialidases (TS) from trypanosoma parasites causing sleeping sickness and nagana in humans and livestock, respectively. In this collaborative project, novel strategies for disease control will be developed by addressing interactions of Siglecs and TS in pathological processes.
Together have also developed a novel drug delivery system using high-affinity Siglec-2 ligands, suitable for therapies of auto-immune diseases and against B cell lymphoma. Based on our published inhibitors with nanomolar affinity, the next generation with even higher affinity will be incorporated into nanoparticles and tested in mouse models. TS from parasites circulating in the blood of an infected host may intervene with its Siglec-mediated regulation of the immune system.
Dr Haselhorst (ARC Future Fellow at the Institute for Glycomics, Griffith University) and former Feodor Lynen Fellow from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is a structural biologist with a long-standing interest in investigating protein-glycan interactions by NMR spectroscopy in the field of infectious disease and cancer. Dr Haselhorst has published more than 40 paper in high-impact journals and has secured funding from national competitive grants with a total value of $2.34 Million as chief investigator. As senior scientists and only NMR specialist, Dr Haselhorst also overlooks the NMR facility at the Institute for Glycomics including overseeing general operation of the facility, training staff and students, assist with technical problems, planning extension of the facility. Dr Haselhorst is a regularly speaker at national and international conferences.