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Structural biologist wins $150K for 'membrane mimic' technology
Date:6/9/2011

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researcher Dr Matthew Call has been awarded a $150,000 Victorian Endowment for Science, Knowledge and Innovation (VESKI) Fellowship by the Victorian Government to continue his novel studies of immune cell receptors and signalling.

Dr Call's research could signal the beginning of an entirely new strategy for treating immune diseases, using creative 'membrane mimic' technology to solve the structures of membrane-embedded proteins, The research has the potential to initiate the development of a new class of drugs for treating autoimmune diseases and preventing transplant rejection.

Dr Call is a joint-laboratory head, with Dr Melissa Call, in the institute's Structural Biology division. He has spent 10 years studying the immune system and immune cell signalling, focusing on the function and role of the portions of cell signalling receptors that are embedded within cell membranes.

Dr Call said the membrane-embedded portions of immune receptors constituted a significant 'blind spot' in the field. "We are interested in understanding how signalling events at the surface of a cell are transmitted to the inside of the cell," Dr Call said. "Our lab takes a different approach to many by actually looking at the parts of the receptor that are embedded in the membrane of the cell, and trying to learn more about their structure and how they fit together. We hope this will give us a more direct view of the kind of mechanical movements that take place within the cell membrane to transmit a signal across the cell boundary."

Dr Call joined the institute last year from Harvard Medical School, where he and his colleagues spent years developing highly specialised techniques to purify and assemble the receptors in 'membrane mimics' that help to analyse their structure. "We are using these structures to generate hypotheses about how things might move during signalling, then we can use other cellular and biochemi
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Contact: Liz Williams
williams@wehi.edu.au
61-405-279-095
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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