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Viruses constitute a major threat to societies. Examples of the last 15 years include avian and swine influenza, Ebola and Nipah viruses, SARS- and MERS-coronavirus. To effectively prevent or impact future outbreaks, new antiviral approaches need to be developed that target viruses causing zoonotic infections in humans. To counteract future outbreaks, a Netherlands Centre of One Health (NCOH) PhD program has been set up to explore novel approaches for development of intervention strategies that target influenza virus and coronavirus families. In this project, we will develop an approach based on single domain antibody (or nanobody) technology. This project is a collaboration between Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Biophysics (Department of Biology, Faculty of Science), Pharmaceutics (Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Science), and Virology (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine).
Nanobodies display several advantages compared to conventional antibodies, such as the capacity to bind structurally hidden epitopes. The PhD candidate will develop nanobodies binding to conserved epitopes on viral proteins from corona- and influenza viruses. After thorough characterization of their binding properties, these nanobodies will subsequently be explored for application in diagnosis, protection, and treatment of viral infection.
A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.
The city of Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a charming old centre and an internationally oriented culture that is strongly influenced by its century-old university. Utrecht city has been consistently ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the Netherlands and the most bicycle-friendly city in the world.
The Faculty of Science consists of six Departments: Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Information and Computing Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry and Mathematics. The Faculty is home to 6,200 students and nearly 1,500 staff and is internationally renowned for the quality of its research. The Faculty's academic programmes reflect developments in today's society.
The division of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Biophysics at the Department of Biology aims to decipher the cellular basis for human diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders. To achieve this, the latest methods and technologies in molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, and microscopy are combined. In addition, the nanobody technology has been explored for fundamental as well as applied research questions.
The Pharmaceutics division of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences focuses on the design and preclinical testing of tailor-made drug delivery systems for site-specific, time- and/or rate-controlled delivery of small molecular weight drugs, therapeutic proteins, nucleic acids, and antigens for therapy and prevention of life-threatening diseases such as cancer, inflammation, and infectious diseases.
The Virology Division of the Faculty of Veterinary studies the interaction between viruses and their hosts at the molecular/cell biological level as well as at the level of the organism. The ultimate goal is to translate the knowledge that we obtain into the development of novel vaccines, antiviral therapies, and diagnostic tools.
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