12. Event title:
The Puzzles of Infections
13. Description of the core message of your event and key topics to be covered (c.100 words):
We aim to promote the public knowledge of Structural Biology, and Protein Crystallography, in particular as an essential tool to understand the mechanisms of infections. The final outcome will be for participants to be aware of the key steps involved in our research based on an example protein structure, which will be linked to infections by pathogens and the relevance of structural models to the design of drugs that target and prevent them.
We will focus on a family of proteins from Candida albicans, a normally harmless fungus. This fungus can become pathogenic, causing diseases ranging from superficial infections like thrush to, in extreme cases, widespread infections and death. To switch from harmless to pathogenic, fungal cells have to “bind” to human cells. We recently determined the structure of one member of the Als adhesins, the protein family that is key for this process and revealed details of the “adhesion” (binding) mechanism.
The activity will focus on using 3D computer representations and 3D printed models of this protein and the binding mechanism. The activity will demonstrate how infections are caused by the fungus, and how this understanding helps in drug design and interventions.
14. Does the event have particular local relevance?:
16. How does your event relate to this year's theme of 'Making waves'?:
Structural Biology, despite being considered mostly “basic research” can have important and relevant applications in health, industry and therefore, economical growth. Research in this field can guide drug development and combat disease, as well as having potential applications in industry and food safety, for example. We will point out some of the potential applications in the future as well as refer to current examples (Tamiflu, for example), particularly in the drug development industry.