Birte Martin-Bertelsen

Birte Martin-Bertelsen


Current research

My PhD project is part of a collaboration aimed at developing highly antigen specific vaccines (sub-unit vaccines). One of the challenges in developing sub-unit vaccines is the poor immunogenicity of the used components. Co-administration of adjuvants is therefore needed to enhance the immune response. The Biologics group at the University of Copenhagen have in collaboration with Statens Serum Institute designed and developed a panel of promising adjuvant formulations based on cationic liposomes. Despite the obtained knowledge with respect to formulation characteristics and immunological properties little is currently known about the structure of these adjuvants. To optimize the formulation and to be able to promote rational vaccine design it is important to gain structural insight and establish a structure-activity relationship.

The aim of my PhD project is to increase the knowledge on the structural characteristics of the adjuvant formulations and to establish a structure-activity relationship. The techniques used for structural characterization will mainly rely on small-angle scattering methods such as small-angle X-ray or neutron scattering complemented by electron microscopy (e.g.cryo-TEM) and atomic force microscopy. In order to extract optimal information from the data and include a priori knowledge about the adjuvant systems into the data modeling, a probabilistic approach will be developed and applied to the collected data.

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