16 September 2021

The ZonMw Off Road program is once again giving young scientists the opportunity to conduct innovative research in medical and/or health care. This research is off the beaten track and aims to bring about new insights and unexpected breakthroughs for healthcare and healthcare innovation. 

The Radboudumc researchers taking up the challenge this year are:

Jorge Dominguez Andres

Immune recognition of putative alien microbial structures
With future missions to space, a whole range of microorganisms will be exposed to the extraterrestrial environment. It is crucial to investigate how the immune system might deal with these microbes. This project will mimic conditions found in different bodies of our solar system and study the adaptations of microorganisms to these new environments and the potential changes in their pathogenicity for humans. 

Willem Velema

Tracing the Origin of Mutations in Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria
Antibiotic-resistance is an enormous threat to modern medicine and global public health. Bacteria can develop antibiotic-resistance by purposely introducing mutations into their DNA. Some of these mutations will be beneficial and render the bacteria resistant. What remains unknown is how these mutations end up in genes that are advantageous for bacteria. Here, we will investigate if these mutations happen randomly or if bacteria possess advanced mechanisms to place mutations in favorable positions in their genome. We expect that these ground-breaking findings will advance our understanding of resistance and help to develop new strategies for fighting this global threat.

Annie Yang

Exploiting death to create a safe and efficacious malaria vaccine
Malaria is a major tropical disease. Whole-organism vaccine strategies are based on arresting parasite growth by deleting “essential” pathway(s), but are either not effective or safe. Here, researchers propose to activate the intrinsic death pathway of the parasite to provide a novel approach towards combating malaria.

Tom Schirris

MitoCarrier-Glo: probing drug effects on mitochondrial metabolite transport
Mitochondria are the cellular power plants, which need metabolites imported by specialized transport proteins (gates) to function properly. This study will develop a novel strategy to measure drug and metabolite transport by these gates to elucidate their role in the cell and the effects of drugs thereon.

Read more (in Dutch)

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