Projects per year
The aim of my research is to study the structural and physico-chemical characteristics of proteins involved in maintaining homeostasis of the human body. I am particularly interested in proteins, and their physiologically relevant complexes, that determine the elemental struggle between pathogenic microbes and the immune system of the host. Current projects include:
The Complement System and Microbial Immune Evasion:
The human complement system is comprised of about 20 plasma proteins and 10 receptors on cell membranes. Its primary function is to defend the host against microbial infections, leading to the clearance of antigen-antibody complexes and bacterial lysis. Many bacterial pathogens have evolved ways to adapt to their host environment and survive host immune attack by producing a variety of immune-modulatory factors. My laboratory studies the structural and functional aspects of the interactions between these immune evasion proteins and the complement system. This information will help to design better vaccines and drugs for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
Press release on the development of knob domain peptide as miniature antibodies
Press release on receiving BBSRC Follow-on Funding for the improvement of vaccines
Press release on a paper in the journal Science on the structure of the complex between complement fragment C3d and complement receptor 2
The attachment of sugars to proteins is a very important and well-controlled process in healthy individuals. Sugar-modified proteins (glycoproteins) add to the complexity and diversity of the complement of proteins (proteome) and also control a protein’s location in a cell or the body, its activity, and its interactions with other proteins. Undesired sugar modifications, however, may also occur in the form of glycation, where carbohydrates, such as glucose covalently bind to a protein without the controlling action of an enzyme. The degree of protein glycation has been shown to be an important factor and indicator in ageing and age-related chronic disease states such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
In collaboration with Dr Tony James (Chemistry, Bath) and Dr Rob Williams (Biology & Biochemistry, Bath) we are developing new tools to detect, identify and quantify carbohydrate modifications in glycated proteins that can ultimately be used as diagnostic tools.
Press release on a licence agreement with the company Abcam for our glycation detection technology
Press release on the discovery of glycated proteins linked to Alzheimers disease
Press release on the development of our glycation detection technology
Youtube video "take the bitter with the sweet" explaining our glycation detection technology (Bath Ignite #4)
Other media links
BBC Countryfile: 'Rivers and Waterways' featuring our research on vaccines (starts at 9'11''). October 2016
Minerva Lecture: 'How Bath is improving TB vaccines' Podcast. November 2016
Inaugural lecture: 'A Spoonful of Sugar'. May 2018
AI and protein folding: YouTube video discussing the recently announced breakthrough in AI-based protein structure prediction by DeepMind. December 2020
Current lab members:
Ayla Wahid (Postdoc)
Rhys Dunphy (PhD student)
Alex MacPherson (PhD student, with UCB Celltech)
Joshua Lewis (PhD student, with Porton Biopharma Ltd)
Previous lab members:
Omar Kassaar (Postdoc, joint with Rob Williams)
Catherine Back (Postdoc)
Marjorie Gibbon (Daphne Jackson Fellow)
Yi Yang (PhD student)
Marta Pereira Morais (PhD student and Postdoc)
Gyles Cozier (Postdoc, joint with Andrew Watts)
Suying Xu (Postdoc, joint with Tony James)
Ricardo Resende (Postdoc, joint with Andrew Watts)
Sylvain Royer (Postdoc)
Ben Heath (Postdoc, joint with Stefan Bagby)
Julian Eaton (Postdoc, joint with Stefan Bagby)
Julia Mackay (Postdoc)
Elisabeth Clark (PhD student, joint with Stefan Bagby)
Huan-Lin Wu (PhD student, joint with Stefan Bagby)
Karen Atkins (PhD student)
Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):
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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years
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NERC-FAPESP: Unravelling the evolutionary processes shaping greenbeard recognition systems and the control of cooperative behaviour
20/09/21 → 19/09/24
Project: Research council
Irreversibly Silencing Oncogenic Master-regulator cMyc Using Library-derived Electrophilic Helical Peptides
1/12/20 → 30/11/24
Project: Research council
Complement-mediated clearance of neurotoxic species associated with Alzheimer’s disease: a novel approach to preventing dementia?
Van Den Elsen, J. & Wahid, A.
1/10/20 → 31/08/21
Project: UK charity
Serum albumin binding knob domains engineered within a VH framework III bispecific antibody format and as chimeric peptidesAdams, R., Joyce, C., Kuravskiy, M., Harrison, K., Ahdash, Z., Balmforth, M., Chia, K., Marceddu, C., Coates, M., Snowdon, J., Goursaud, E., Menochet, K., Van Den Elsen, J., Payne, R. J., Lawson, A., Scott-Tucker, A. & Macpherson, A., 12 May 2023, In: Frontiers in Immunology. 14, 15 p., 1170357.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen Access3 Citations (SciVal)
Wonfor, T., Li, S., Dunphy, R., Macpherson, A., Van Den Elsen, J. & Laabei, M., 31 Dec 2022, In: Scientific Reports. 12, 1, 15766.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen Access1 Citation (SciVal)
Staphylococcal complement evasion protein Sbi stabilises C3d dimers by inducing an N-terminal helix swapDunphy, R., Wahid, A., Back, C., Martin, B., Watts, A., Dodson, C., Crennell, S. & Van Den Elsen, J., 25 May 2022, In: Frontiers in Immunology. 13, 892234.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen Access2 Citations (SciVal)8 Downloads (Pure)
The proximity of the N- and C- termini of bovine knob domains enable engineering of target specificity into polypeptide chainsHawkins, A., Joyce, C., Brady, K., Hold, A., Knight, MI., Howard, C., Van Den Elsen, J., Lawson, A. D. G. & Macpherson, A., 1 Jun 2022, In: mAbs. 14, 1, 2076295 .
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen Access4 Citations (SciVal)
A Conformational Change of Complement C5 Is Required for Thrombin-Mediated Cleavage, Revealed by a Novel Ex Vivo Human Whole Blood Model Preserving Full Thrombin ActivityNilsson, P., Johnson, C., Quach, Q. H., Macpherson, A., Durrant, O., Pischke, S., Fure, H., Landsem, A., Bergseth, G., Schjalm, C., Haugaard-Kedström, L., Huber-Lang, M., Van Den Elsen, J., Brekke, O-L. & Mollnes, T. E., 15 Sept 2021, In: The Journal of Immunology. 207, 6, p. 1641-1651 11 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen Access9 Citations (SciVal)
Doekhie, A. (Creator), Dattani, R. (Data Collector), Chen, Y. (Project Member), Koumanov, F. (Project Member), Edler, K. (Project Member), Van Den Elsen, J. (Project Member) & Sartbaeva, A. (Project Manager), University of Bath, 5 Aug 2021
Dataset for "Ensilicated tetanus antigen retains immunogenicity: in vivo study and time-resolved SAXS characterization"
Doekhie, A. (Creator), Slade, M. (Creator), Castaing, R. (Creator), Edler, K. (Creator), Koumanov, F. (Creator), Van Den Elsen, J. (Creator), Marchbank, K. (Creator) & Sartbaeva, A. (Creator), University of Bath, 12 Aug 2020