Chiamaka Ukachukwu

Pharmacology PhD Student
Jones D. Lab

Advisors

Areas of Interest

I am investigating ways to modulate hERG behavior, a voltage-gated potassium channel that conducts the major cardiac repolarizing current IKr, to treat cardiac diseases of excitability such as Long QT Syndrome (LQTS), a condition where individuals have increased risk of arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death. Our collaborators at the University of Porto developed a library of antibody fragments that target the regulatory domain of hERG and change its kinetics. I demonstrated that exogenous expression of these antibody fragments modulate hERG behavior in a way that could exert cardioprotective effects in a physiologically relevant context.
 
Using a LQTS induced pluripotent stem-cell derived cardiomyocyte (iPS-CM) line, I am testing if this antibody can correct perturbed cardiac electrical activity. I am most excited about this because 1) if we see the desired effect, this would support that our antibody fragment could be developed into a targeted-gene therapy and 2) I get to work with beating heart cells in the lab! The coolest part is that I will be able to measure the electrical activity of iPS-CMs and see the effects of the antibody fragment  in real time.