Hana Atiqah Abdul Karim, Malaysia

Hana has a BSc in Chemistry and is an MSc candidate in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry at the Faculty of Science, University of Malaya. She graduated from the same university before she embarked on her journey in research where she focuses on drug design and development. It was not until her final semester that she discovered the best of both worlds; computational studies and molecular biology. During the early days of her MSc Hana had the chance to get an internship in Aurigene Discovery Technologies, one of the most established drug companies in India, to deepen her knowledge. By collaborating with Prof Dr Chatchai Tayapiwatana, one of the well known researchers in Thailand on silico studies on the potential novel inhibitor cum biomaterial by targeting the viral capsid HIV-1, they hope to provide future generations with the novel treatment for HIV-1 patients thus putting an end to the epidemic of HIV/AIDS. With one ISI-indexed publication and the other in Scopus-indexed proceedings, she now hopes that she can be the new spokesperson for her research group at the University of Malaya in order to share the knowledge she gained with the public on the potential of a novel inhibitor for HIV-1 thus gaining fruitful experience with MLC 2015.

Towards a cure for HIV: In silico protein engineering of a novel biomaterial

Computational approaches have been utilised by molecular biologists around the world as a guiding key in engineering and enhancing protein-protein interactions, which are known to have a central role in biological functions. The function of a biomaterial known as trimodular Designed Ankyrin Repeat Protein (DARPin) has been identified as a new target in aiming a viral HIV-1 capsid protein. The protein-protein interaction between this type of biomaterial, ankyrin and the viral capsid, has been studied in depth prior to the modification (via means of mutation) of the initial ankyrin structure. This generates a new DARPin with better binding and antiviral properties against the viral capsid, thus further preventing the formation of new virion.

Molecular dynamics (MD) stimulation was utilized in this study to simulate the potential novel complexes, as well as to determine their newly possessed binding interaction. From the calculation conducted, it has been determined that a better DARPin-(HIV-1) interaction was observed with this novel designed biomaterial, thus directing us a step further in finding a better treatment for millions of HIV-1 patients.

Back to 2015 finalists