Applying cutting edge techniques have been important for both Sophia and Andrea.
Andrea explained: “CRISPR is one of the most sophisticated gene-editing platforms there is. At home we learn about it in class, but we don’t get to do it. Here, I’ve been able to do it myself. I’ve also been able to work with viruses to introduce DNA into cells – another technique that is not common at home.”
“Part of the reason I applied was so that I could learn more research techniques. Especially techniques we don’t normally have at home, or don’t have access to. I really wanted to learn how to do CRISPR and how to use the flow cytometers. I contacted Julian before I arrived so we could set that up,” says Sophia.
Sophia has been investigating the ACS10 gene in the parasite that causes malaria. A change, or mutation, in the gene is thought to cause resistance to antimalarial drugs. She is using CRISPR to create parasite cells with specific mutations – these cells can then be tested to see if they are susceptible to the drug. “It’s exciting. I’m learning a lot,” she says. She will take her knowledge back to her institute in the Philippines where several research groups are setting up similar techniques.