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In the Lab with Sharon Crary

July 26, 2016

Mary Ann Etling ’18 and Ethan W. Law ’18 are working with Sharon Crary, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at DePauw University, to develop a test strip for a neglected tropical disease called Leishmaniasis. The strip will work very similar to an at-home pregnancy test, although theirs will use a finger prick. The current method of diagnosing Leishmaniasis requires a full laboratory and trained medical professionals. Because Leishmaniasis affects some of the poorest and most marginalized individuals in the world, many are unable to be diagnosed and go without treatment. Etling and Law hope that the development of a low-cost, easy-to-use diagnostic test will help identify people in need of aid, helping to control a disease that contributes to cycles of poverty.

Christopher W. Hawk ’18 and Benjamin “Ben” J. Kusber ’18 are working with Crary on RNA-protein interactions in the Ebola virus. The Ebola virus is coated in several proteins that are important for structure and function of the virus, notably the nucleoprotein. The nucleoprotein is crucial for the ability of the virus to replicate in a host cell as it tightly wraps around the virus's RNA. In the lab, they are working to isolate and purifying this nucleoprotein. Currently, it is unknown how the RNA and nucleoprotein interact with one another, and their hope is to understand the process. With the understanding of how they interact, an effective treatment for this disease could be discovered.

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