Emirati biophysicist to be published in leading scientific journal

DUBAI, Dr. Saif Al Qassim, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) has published a breakthrough study on molecular mechanisms in the human body.

Dr. Al Qassim and a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania conducted the research titled ‘A tunable LIC1-adaptor interaction modulates dynein activity in a cargo specific manner’ on Dynein, a molecular motor that is responsible for the transportation of various cellular cargo and plays a critical role in cell division. Dynein is hijacked by viruses during infection.

Malfunction of the Dynein machinery is linked to developmental and neurodegenerative disorders. In the study, Dr. Al Qassim and co-authors combine crystal structures with biophysical quantitative binding and motility experiments to provide crucial insights into the molecular basis of activation of Dynein’s processive motility, bringing immense biological significance.

Structural and biophysical approaches are crucial for understanding molecular function in the context of disease and pathogenic infection, contributing directly to drug and therapeutic development. Their importance has been brought into the spotlight through the rapid development of the various vaccines against COVID-19 that would not have been possible without an in-depth understanding of the atomic resolution structure of the virus’ molecules.

The study by Dr. Al Qassim and his co-researchers was published in Nature Communications, renowned as one of the most distinguished open access journals in the world that publishes scientifically rigorous research, employing an extremely strict acceptance rate of just under eight percent.

“I am honoured to be a part of this research project that has produced thought-provoking results and shines a light on a fundamental interaction that regulates dynein transport machinery, which will provide a solid foundation for development of treatment methodologies for a variety of associated diseases,” said Dr. Al Qassim who received his doctoral degree in biophysics & biophysical chemistry at the renowned Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and served as visiting faculty at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.

“I am immensely grateful to MBRU for the faith shown in me. This study provides a foundation for me to conduct other studies that utilise structural biology and biophysical approaches in the UAE to better understand disease at the molecular level, thereby helping advance healthcare in our country and the region, in line with the vision of MBRU,” he added.

Dr. Amer Sharif, Vice Chancellor, MBRU, said, “Promoting excellence in research is one of our core values, and the fact that another member of our faculty has been involved in an innovative study that will have a far-reaching impact in medical science reinforces the work we do at MBRU.”

“We’re very much committed to developing our UAE National workforce, an example is Dr. Saif, who was supported by MBRU while he was a visiting faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League research university, which in turn allowed such research to emanate from his time there,” he said.

“We hope that the publication of this study in this distinguished journal will serve as a catalyst for the UAE’s research community to aim higher and encourage collaborations with researchers at elite medical and scientific institutions across the world.”


Source: Emirates News Agency

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