PhD to develop clinically viable brain delivery technologies for biologicals

Leuven VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research

29 Apr 2019

Leuven

VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research

Bart De Strooper Lab

PhD

1

About the lab

The Laboratory for the Research of Neurodegenerative Diseases, headed by Prof. Bart De Strooper, initiated a substantial effort to generate technologies to deliver therapeutic drug candidates over the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The current strategy is based on receptor-mediated transcytosis (RMT), a method proven to be able to shuttle therapeutic relevant concentrations of biological drugs to the brain. This method targets affinity binders (e.g. antibodies, antibody-fragments, peptides, …) towards nutrient transporters (e.g. transferrin receptor, insulin receptor, glucose transporter, …) present at the BBB. Once bound, the antibody fragments will shuttle along with those transporters (and their nutrient cargos) from the blood to the brain. Currently about 5 receptors are capable to shuttle antibodies into the brain, but all of them have a limited capacity, combined with a low brain specificity and/or a suboptimal safety profile.

The aim of this project is to identify, through a highly innovative and challenging in vivo screening platform, novel receptors with higher capacity and/or safety and/or specificity profile to shuttle medication into the brain. Due to the smart design of the platform, the study will identify VHHs (Nanobodies®, single-chain antibody fragments originating from camelids) able to cross the BBB through these receptors. The major goals of this highly translational project are:

  1. to generate a therapeutic drug candidate for cancer brain metastasis in the next three years
  2. to develop medication for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease
  3. getting proof-of-concept for our in vivo screening platform
  4. found a spin-off company around the technology and gen rated drug candidates

The current BBB-team in Prof. De Strooper's lab comprises 4 researchers and is supported by two major local grants (SBO (FWO) & Grand Challenges (VIB)), and some other funding resources (FWO scholarship & Cure AD fund). The team has ongoing intense collaborations with multiple national and international academic partners and companies. The collaboration (and funding) is coordinated from within the De Strooper lab.

Your job

To strengthen their team, they are looking for a dynamic and ambitious scientist with a keen interest in applied and translational research.

Profile

Essential

  • Innovative and creative personality
  • Ability to independently generate precise, reliable data and interpret them
  • Master's degree with (at least) distinction in one of the following fields: Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Neurosciences or a related field.
  • Fluency in English (verbally and in writing) is mandatory
  • Highly motivated to work in an international competitive environment
  • Love for scientific work

 Desirable but not required

  •  Understanding of and hands on experience with the blood brain barrier
  • Experience with some standard cell biology (mammalian cell culture, FACS, immunofluorescence, …) and molecular biology techniques (cloning, protein expression & purification, 
  • Experience with assay development (ELISA, AlphaScreen, cell-based screens, reporter assays, …)
  • Experience with in vivo models
  • Experience in antibody development
  • Experience in protein engineering and/or affinity maturation methods
  • Experience with phage display

We offer

  • Access to  state-of-the-art infrastructure and possibility to invest in new infrastructure as needed
  • A stimulating, diverse international research environment in a world-class academic laboratory
  • Given the substantial translational track in this project: coaching and support from our industry experts at VIB Discovery Sciences
  • Animal models,  patient material, expertise in neurodegenerative disorders
  • Start date: as soon as possible - the position is immediately available

How to apply?

Please complete the online application procedure and include a detailed CV, a short motivation letter describing previous research experience and the names and contact information of 3 references. Interested candidates are invited to apply as soon as possible. Applications will be welcome until the position is filled.

For more information: please contact Bart De Strooper

For extra information: