The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford is a centre for world class research and teaching of all aspects of Biochemistry by staff from many different backgrounds and nationalities. Our research addresses a wide range of questions relating to the fundamental basis of all cellular life from man to microbes. This work explains the structures and functions of proteins and nucleic acids, and in doing so addresses the mechanisms of many human diseases. Using this knowledge, other researchers aim to create new vaccines, antiviral and antibacterial therapies to protect and treat humans across the world.
You can read more about the details of our current work and other aspects of the department, including undergraduate teaching and public outreach activities, on these web pages.
Professor Mark Sansom, Head of Department
Understanding cerebral malaria: novel molecular insights into a sticky problem
Why do the most debilitating cases of malaria affect the brain, leading to cerebral disease? This important question has been addressed in a recent paper from Frank Lennartz and Matt Higgins, working with colleagues at the University of Copenhagen .
Figure 1. The structure of a complex between a PfEMP1 domain (green) and the human receptor ICAM-1 (blue) was used to determine key residues (yellow) important for receptor binding. This allowed for the identification of dual-receptor binding PfEMP1. The expression of these PfEMP1 correlates with the development of cerebral malaria in children (Click to Enlarge)
Cerebral malaria is a devastating disease in which erythrocytes infected with the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum accumulate within tiny capillaries of the brain. This restricts blood flow and results in brain inflammation and swelling. It causes life-threatening symptoms and severe long-term neurological damage even in those who survive.