Showing articles associated with Ivan Ahel

Following the work into fidelity of protein translation in his PhD from Yale University, Professor Ahel joined Cancer Research UK to start his research on DNA damage response mechanisms. His investigations into the roles of novel DNA repair factors would lead to the creation of his independent position at Cancer Research UK’s Manchester Institute. In 2013, the lab moved to the Dunn School of Pathology where his team research DNA repair.

What is your main area(s) of interest/expertise?

Our genome is constantly exposed to various types of DNA damage, both endogenous and exogenous. It has been estimated that the DNA in every cell of our body suffers thousands of DNA lesions per day, which, if left unattended, can lead to mutations and/or cell death. A number of genetic diseases are known to be linked to DNA damage, such as cancer, neurodegeneration, immunodeficiency or developmental abnormalities. My laboratory focuses on the signaling by a post-translational protein modification called ADP-ribosylation and the roles of PARP family of proteins (enzymes that synthesize this modification) on the DNA damage response and other cellular processes. Our aim is to provide a mechanistic understanding of these processes as well as providing a platform for targeting them to develop ways of treating and preventing disease.

What are you working on right now?

We are screening for the inhibitors against the coronavirus macrodomain ADP-ribosyl hydrolase. The macrodomain enzyme disables activity of the human antiviral proteins such as PARP12 and PARP14. Our work has potential to provide the first inhibitor hits against this essential protein for viral replication. This would provide a foundation to develop novel drugs to treat coronavirus infections in the future.

Why is Oxford a good place to work in this field of research?

People tend to think of Oxford as just the University, but the truth is we have a region rich with excellent firms and organisations to collaborate with. For example, in our present work, we are applying for beamline access at the Diamond Synchrotron at the Harwell Campus just down the road from Oxford to optimise our SARS-CoV-2 macrodomain crystals. Applications for the Coronavirus related projects are currently encouraged by Diamond, demonstrating that we have a whole community here, both in the University and beyond, working on solving the coronavirus crisis.

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Ivan Ahel
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