Dr. Mario Waespy
- 2018 Project leader “Green Keratinocytes”, Centre for Biomolecular Interactions Bremen (CBIB), University of Bremen, Germany, the project is founded by the Volkswagen Stiftung.
- 2016 PostDoc (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) at the Wound Repair Unit, Centre for Biomolecular Interactions Bremen (CBIB) University of Bremen, Germany.
- Project entitled: “Photosynthetic keratinocytes: light-powered oxygen for non-healing skin wounds”
- 2016 University lecturer, University of Bremen, Department of Biology/ Chemistry.
- Courses: Scientific writing and presenting (ForstA); Organisation of a students conference in chemistry (ForstA)
- 2015 PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Centre for Biomolecular Interactions Bremen (CBIB) University of Bremen, Germany.
Title of the thesis: “Structure and function relationship of trans-sialidases from Trypanosoma congolense”
- 2014, 2017 Scientific research stay at the Institute for Glycomics, Griffith University Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia Project entitled: “Functional characterisation of the TS lectin domain from Trypanosoma congolense”
- 2011 Diploma thesis at the Centre for Biomolecular Interactions Bremen (CBIB) University of Bremen, Germany.
Title of the thesis: “Charakterisierung von Reaktionsprodukten der Trans-Sialidasen aus Trypanosoma congolense”
My main research interest focuses on glycobiochemistry and molecular structure-functional biology.
Applications comprise the biochemical characterisation of a parasitical class of enzymes termed trans-sialidases (TS), which represent a major virulence factor in Human African Trypanosommiasis (HAT, sleeping sickness) and Animal African Trypanosomiasis (AAT, Nagana) in Sub-Saharan Africa. HAT and AAT are fatal, tropical neglected diseases (WHO), caused by the African parasite trypanosoma. It is estimated that annually 10-30 thousand individuals, as well as more then 3 million domestic and wild African animals are affected by HAT and AAT.
TS are expressed by trypanosomes and depict an unusual class of glycosyltransferases, catalysing the reversible transfer of preferentially α2,3-linked sialic acids (Sia) to terminal β-galactose residues on acceptor glycoproteins of the parasite’s surface. This newly formed negatively charged surface coat is known to play a fundamental role in several biological processes during the life cycle of trypanosomes in host and vector and secures their survival in both.
We focus on the biochemical characterisation of Trypanosoma congolense (Tcon) TS including its mode of carbohydrate recognition, catalytic Sia transfer as well as ligand specificity and binding kinetics employing a variety of biophysical and -chemical methods, in order to obtain further insights into structure function relationships. Enhanced biochemical knowledge on TconTS will pave the way for the design and synthesis of novel specific and highly potent trypanosomal TS inhibitors that might be used as antiparasidal drugs in the future, in order to control trypanosomiasis in affected countries.
In this research project we focus on the development of new strategies for the treatment of non-healing skin wounds. In Germany, around 1.5 million people suffer from so called non-healing skin wounds, consequently leading to limb amputation and immense medical treatment expenses, annually. One main reason for the insufficient healing process represents the local tissue hypoxia (inadequate oxygen supply) occurring at the site of injury. However, in this context the question arises how to provide chronic wounds with oxygen to improve the healing process, apart from common methods such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
Our novel approach involves the generation of an endosymbionic skin cell, which will be biochemically engineered to achieve the ability of autonomous, light and time controlled oxygen production. When engrafted, these neo-endosymbionts would be able to stabilise the oxygen supply at the site of injury, thus counteracting tissue hypoxia and consequently enable enhanced wound closure.
Our highly interdisciplinary research team is made up of scientist from different research fields including biochemists, cell biologists, marine biologists, microsystems engineers and medical scientists, providing an excellent scientific environment to target all the involved scientific and practical questions.
In summary, our concept represents an entirely new line of wound therapy for diabetics as well as for arteriosclerotic non-healing wounds and may also pave the way for a new generation of molecular cell engineering strategies.
The project “Photosynthetic keratinocytes: light-powered oxygen for non-healing skin wounds” started early 2016, is funded by the Volkswagen (VW) foundation and has been extended in 2018 under the title “Green Keratinocytes”.
Madge, P.D., Maggioni, A., Pascolutti, M., Amin, M., Waespy, M., Bellette, B., Thomson, R.J., Kelm, S., von Itzstein, M. & Haselhorst, T. (2016). Structural characterisation of high affinity Siglec-2 (CD22) ligands in complex with whole Burkitt’s lymphoma (LB) Daudi cells by NMR spectroscopy. Scientific Reports Nature Publishing Group vol. 6 Issue 1, p. 36012
Waespy, M., Gbem, T.T., Elenschneider, L., Jeck, A.-P., Day, C. J., Hartley-Tassell, L., Bovin, N., Tiralongo, J., Haselhorst, T., Kelm, S. (2015). Carbohydrate recognition specificity of trans-sialidase lectin domain from Trypanosoma congolense. PLOS Neglected Tropical Disease vol. 9 issue 10, p. e4120.
Kelm, S., Madge, P., Islam, T., Bennett, R., Koliwer-Brandl, H., Waespy, M., von Itzstein, M., Haselhorst, T. (2013). C-4 Modified Sialosides Enhance Binding to Siglec-2 (CD22): Towards Potent Siglec Inhibitors for Immunoglycotherapy. Angewandte Chemie International Edition vol. 52 issue 13, p. 3616-3620.