The Scintillon Institute is proud to announce the recent addition to its faculty, Dr. Albert Chen, who is a neurobiologist and a leading expert who specializes in examining the link between neural circuits and behavior in health and disease.
Albert Chen joins Scintillon Institute as an Associate Professor of Neuroscience after spending eight years at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Research in his lab employs a multidisciplinary approach to define the molecular, anatomical, and functional distinctions of brain centers important for coordination and refinement of movement, motor learning, and complex motivated behaviors using genetic and viral circuit tracing, neural manipulations, deep brain imaging and quantitative behavioral approaches in mice.
The rising prevalence of obesity and eating disorders is a significant public health crisis, and dysfunctions of subcortical and hindbrain networks important for feeding behaviors and metabolism have been implicated. With a recently awarded R01 from the NIH, an exciting new project in the Chen lab aims to identify and characterize previously unknown components of the neural network that mediates food seeking and consumption, with a long-term goal of exploring the efficacy of drugs and brain stimulation as effective therapeutics for body weight control.
A recent publication put out by Scintillon Institute researchers in collaboration with the team at Allele Biotechnology and Pharamaceuticals, "Single-Domain SARS-CoV-2 S1 and RBD Antibodies Isolated from Immunized Llama Effectively Bind Targets of the Wuhan, UK, and South African Strains in vitro" details their work on COVID strain detection and potential treatment options.
The spreading of COVID virus (SARS-CoV-2) variants has become a major challenge of the current fight against the pandemic. Of particular concerns are the strains that have arisen from the United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa. The UK variant spreads rapidly and is projected to overtake the original strain in the US as early as in March 2021, while the South African variant appears to evade some effects of the current vaccines. Potential false-negative diagnosis using currently available antigen kits that may not recognize these variants could cause another wave of community infection. Therefore, it is imperative that antibodies used in the detection kits are validated for binding against these variants.
Scientists from Scintillon Institute in collaboration with those from Allele Biotech have isolated SARS-CoV-2 nanoantibodies (nAbs in our terminology, also referred to as VHH fragments, single domain antibodies, nanobodiesTM) from llama for the purpose of developing both rapid antigen detection test kit and therapeutic antibody drugs that can neutralize SARS-CoV-2. They discovered that their nanoantibodies bind the receptor binding domain (RBD) as well as the trimeric Spike protein of not only the S1 protein of the original COVID-SARS-2 virus, but also those from the UK and South African variants. This finding gives a hope that these nanoantibodies may be useful in COVID diagnostics as well as therapeutics.
To read the full paper: https://biorxiv.org/cgi/content/short/2021.02.15.431198v1
Scintillon Institute is a non-profit research focused on the development and application of new technologies to diagnose, treat, and prevent disease. Founded in 2012, the Institute’s faculty includes experts in biomedical and cellular engineering, regenerative medicine, neuroscience, cancer, and infectious diseases. Scintillon Institute is located in the heart of the San Diego biotechnology hub, with partners and collaborators around the world.
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