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Interview with Lucie Delemotte

Published Dec 14, 2022

Lucie Delemotte, associate professor of biophysics, and her collaborators have been awarded a grant of SEK 27,100,000 over five years from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. Lucie informed us of the research goals of the project as well as the academic groups that will be part of it.

Lucie Delemotte

Tell us a bit about the research project.

Targeting ion channels holds immense promise for pharmaceutical development to treat, for example, drug-resistant epilepsies. Nevertheless, there have been challenges associated with this strategy, not least because the ion channels in various organs are similar, and it is difficult to design drugs that are very specific to, e.g. the channels in neurons. With this project, we will team up with researchers who perform various types of experiments, namely electrophysiology (electrical current recording in cells and tissues), structure determination by cryo-electron microscopy, behavioral tests in rodents, and drug-protein interaction modeling, such that we can study the effect of drugs from the atomistic level up to the organism level, via the macromolecular and cellular scales. To bridge the scales, we will use machine learning to integrate the data together and extract information that is otherwise rather undetectable.

With this, we hope to be able to suggest new ways to selectively target these channels and precisely be able to either activate or dampen their function. We think the protocols and pipelines we will come up with can also be useful in other projects where the protein that is at the origin of a disease is known but attempts to target it in a selective way have failed.

What are your plans for the future? Are you planning to hire some PhD students or postdocs with this money

For this project to succeed, we must invest in 5 subprojects. My lab is in charge of modeling the effect of the candidate pharmaceuticals on the channels, and we will have one postdoc working on this. The other research teams at Linköping U, Chalmers TU, Lund U, and Stockholm U will also have personnel dedicated to the project. A key aspect of the success of the work is that the different members of the team have a good understanding of the results obtained in other projects so we will invest time and funding in developing ample opportunities to meet and discuss!

Text: Danai Deligeorgaki