FY 2019 SPROUT Projects

Vaccines Targeting HIV Sugars for Broad Neutralization

Isaac Kraus, Dung Nguyen
Up to 20% of people infected with HIV develop antibodies against the virus. Many of these antibodies use a specific pathway to attack the disease, homing in on a particular carbohydrate on the virus’ envelope. Isaac Kraus and his team are working to replicate that natural antibody’s process to create an HIV vaccine.

Boosting rational drug design for Hepatitis B by large-scale production of the X antigen

Maria-Eirini Pandelia, Amy Milne, Chie Ueda, Michelle Langton
Chronic infection by Hepatitis B is one of the world’s leading causes of cancer. One of the virus’ proteins, HBx, is a major agent in how it damages cells, and has been shown to be instrumental in both cancer and cirrhosis development. Researchers around the world are targeting this protein as they seek new treatments for Hepatitis B, but it has been difficult to isolate, store, and study. Maria-Eirini Pandelia and her lab are developing new ways to purify this protein and scale up its production, making it easier for all researchers to study how Hepatitis B works.

TRIBOX: Developing an assay kit for easy RNA-binding protein target identification

Michael Rosbash, Reazur Rahman, Weijin Xu
Damage or mutations to RNA-binding proteins in cells have been linked to many neurological conditions, from Fragile X Syndrome to ALS. Building on his Nobel Prize-Winning work on circadian rhythms, Michael Rosbash and his team have developed a method called TRIBE (Targets of RNA-binding proteins Identified By Editing) to better study these proteins and how they work when functioning normally, as well as how mutations affect the body. Once expensive, TRIBE is now within the reach of more labs, thanks to Rosbash’s new kit, which helps labs more affordably research the genetics of neurological diseases.

Optimization of HyperTRIBE Analysis

Michael Rosbash, Joshua Lepson, Reazur Rahman, Weijin Xu
RNA-binding proteins (RBP) plays an important role in the human genome: about 10% of all genes that code for proteins are RBPs. Mutations in RBPs have been implicated in many diseases, including cancer and ALS. Studying them has been challenging, however, as scientists need large samples of genes to accurately map the actions of RBPs. Colleagues of Nobel Prize Winner Michael Rosbash who work in his lab have developed HyperTRIBE, a software with an in vitro HyperTRIBE assay kit, to study even small samples of RBPs more accurately. This can lead to better understanding of many genetic diseases.

A New Strategy to Treat Chronic Infections

Liz Hedstrom, Devi Gollapalli
The reason bacteria become resistant to antibiotics is that no antibiotic kills all the bacteria causing an infection. Antibiotics are unable to kill certain dormant germs, which then stay behind, then can revive and evolve to resist antibiotics. Liz Hedstrom and her lab have found a way to make these “sleeper” bacteria awaken prematurely, so that they can be eliminated by antibiotic treatment before they can stay in the body to evolve into resistant strains.

GreenLabs: Sustaining Science through Recycling

Brenda Lemos, David Waterman, both of Jim Haber’s Lab
More plastic has been manufactured in the last 10 years than all of the last century. This overplastification has had detrimental effects in our planet. Science—specifically laboratory work - is partly to blame. Much of the lab-grade plastics could not be recycled traditionally. Until now: Brenda Lemos and her team are working on a project to recycle America’s 6 Million tons of plastic lab waste.