Peptides Galore

Autoimmune diseases are very challenging to treat. They lead a person’s body to go into a self-destruction mode, killing many perfectly healthy cells in the process. Furthermore it is often times difficult to pinpoint the reasons for the onset of these illnesses consequentially causing immense difficulties in treatment. Several decades ago, researchers created a synthetic randomly self-assembling peptide, glatiramer acetate (GA), which was soon discovered to aid in the reversal of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Decades later, researchers are still trying to pinpoint the exact mechanisms in which GA is able to help MS patients. By discovering these mechanisms it can lead to the development of more drugs of this nature to increasingly lead to improved therapeutic immune responses.

In the Collier Lab, I have gotten a chance to learn about synthetic randomly self-assembling peptides, from how they are created in a peptide synthesizer to techniques (such as ELISA) to test the immune responses these peptides elicit.

However, one of the challenges of working with creating vaccines with these peptides is that due to the nature of their structure it is difficult to stop these peptides from precipitating out of their solvent, which can lead to challenges in ensuring the reliability of the administration of the vaccine. Therefore, one of the goals I will be tackling will be to devise different methods to optimize the solubility of these peptides.

I am excited for the coming weeks and am eager to keep learning more about these self-assembling peptides. I have learned so much these past three weeks and can’t wait for what else is in store.

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