Alexandra Males

Chemical disruption of the 0-GlcNAc modification in the context of neurodengeration

After completion of a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from the University of Sheffield, I worked as a research assistant at the Oxford Protein Production Facility (The University of Oxford) for a year; teaching and conducting cloning, expression, purification and crystallisation experiments. This experience perked my interest in a PhD based in Structural Biology.

Under the supervision and guidance of Professor Gideon Davies, a distinguished and renowned scientist in carbohydrate crystallography and enzymology, and Dr Martin Fascione, a notable scientist in bioorthogonal chemical glycobiology, I am carrying out my project entitled “The chemical disruption of the O-GlcNAc modification in the context of neurodegeneration”. The main technique employed to answer the research question is X-ray crystallography of O-GlcNAcase, a target for inhibition to treat Alzheimer’s disease, along with cell biology, kinetics and biophysical assays.

Over 850,000 people presently live with Alzheimer’s disease in the UK and in 2015, 520,000 people developed the disease. Currently, there aren’t any drugs available to cure Alzheimer’s disease or other neurodegenerative diseases. Research into this area is of high importance for new treatments, preventions and better tools for diagnosis.