Two-year NWO Rubicon grant for Wouter Verdurmen

Verdurmen, Wouter

Wouter Verdurmen from the laboratory of Roland Brock (Dept. of Biochemistry) has been awarded a two-year Rubicon grant from the NWO for his project entitled "A Modular Protein Engineering Approach for the Cytosolic Delivery of Therapeutic Proteins". Supported by this grant, Wouter will perform postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Andreas Plückthun, a world leader on protein engineering, at the University of Zürich - Department of Biochemistry.

The proposed research aims to develop a general approach to deliver designed ankyrin repeat protein (DARPins), serving as model therapeutic proteins, into the cell, where they can target disease-related proteins that cannot be reached by therapeutic proteins so far. DARPins are binding proteins that rely on the modularity of ankyrins and that can be developed against any target. Importantly, they have excellent biochemical properties and tolerate more extensive protein engineering procedures than antibodies. A modular approach will be taken to achieve receptor targeting, cytosolic delivery and activity against an intracellular protein target.

The project combines the expertise on cellular delivery that Wouter has obtained over the course of his PhD project in the group of Roland Brock with the extensive protein engineering experience of the group of Andreas Plückthun. It is expected that this research will deliver ground-breaking results on intracellular protein targeting. Out of the 83 proposals submitted, this project was placed on position 2 of the final ranking.

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