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SLAS Discovery’s August Edition Highlights Brigham Young University Student’s Research, “Selection of Functional Intracellular Nanobodies”

James WoodsJames Woods

Oak Brook, IL (USA) — August’s edition of SLAS Discovery showcases research from James Woods, a fourth-year undergraduate student in biochemistry at Brigham Young University (BYU) (Utah). In “Selection of Functional Intracellular Nanobodies,” Woods describes current nanobody selection methods and focuses on those that ensure intracellular functionality. Nanobodies are recombinant antibody fragments derived from camelids that have a wide variety of potential uses. Intracellular applications of nanobodies are of particular interest because nanobodies tend to be more stable in the cytoplasm than other antibody formats. This unique characteristic allows nanobodies to function as fluorescent probes, tools for protein knockout and potentially as therapeutics aimed at intracellular targets.  

What started as a class assignment, developed into Woods’ first review paper, under the guidance of Dr. Joshua L. Anderson, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and head of the Fritz B. Burns Laboratory at BYU.

"James is an outstanding, intellectually-curious undergraduate researcher and an unusually good writer,” said Dr. Anderson. “For this project, he immersed himself in the literature and put together a review that will truly benefit the scientific community. It's a remarkable accomplishment for a student his age. He has an incredibly bright future."

Due to the shape of their binding surface, nanobodies can bind epitopes that are often unavailable to conventional antibodies, like an enzyme-active site. Additionally, nanobodies are small enough that in some cases they can be engineered to pass through the plasma membrane. These two qualities make nanobodies unique as a potential therapeutic scaffold. In the future, nanobody-based therapeutics could allow large molecule drugs to act on intracellular targets, which would create a new class of biologic therapeutics.    

Woods plans to apply for medical scientist training programs (MSTPs) and hopes to expand on his interest in high-throughput screening and large molecule drug development. Access to his review in August’s edition of SLAS Discovery is available at https://journals.sagepub.com/toc/jbxb/24/7 through September 22. For more information about SLAS and its journals, visit www.slas.org/journals.

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SLAS (Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening) is an international community of 19,000 professionals and students dedicated to life sciences discovery and technology. The SLAS mission is to bring together researchers in academia, industry and government to advance life sciences discovery and technology via education, knowledge exchange and global community building.

SLAS Discovery: 2017 Impact Factor 2.355. Editor-in-Chief Robert M. Campbell, Ph.D., Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, IN (USA). SLAS Discovery (Advancing Life Sciences R&D) was previously published (1996-2016) as the Journal of Biomolecular Screening (JBS).

SLAS Technology: 2017 Impact Factor 2.632. Editor-in-Chief Edward Kai-Hua Chow, Ph.D., National University of Singapore (Singapore). SLAS Technology (Translating Life Sciences Innovation) was previously published (1996-2016) as the Journal of Laboratory Automation (JALA).

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