Martin Schwalm Emerges as Winner of Scientific Challenge Spring 2023


Martin Schwalm Emerges as Winner of Scientific Challenge Spring 2023

March 15, 2024 14:44 CET

The Scientific Challenge Spring 2023 comes to a conclusion: Martin Schwalm from the University of Frankfurt wins with his project “Identifying Binders to Hijack the Autophagy System for Targeted Protein Degradation”!

The study aimed to identify binders for the LC3A protein’s hydrophobic binding site, a crucial target for drug discovery within the Atg8 protein family. Utilizing a library of approximately 8500 compounds, virtual screening identified potential binders, subsequently validated through fluorescence polarization screening. Ultimately, two non-covalent binders with Ki ≤ 10 µM were identified.

NMR spectroscopy confirmed binding to the hydrophobic binding site. Additionally, a structure-based screening approach using X-ray crystallography identified two novel binding sites (S1 and S2) on LC3B, with S1 being particularly promising for future drug discovery efforts.

We extend our congratulations to Martin for his exemplary and comprehensive study, which has provided valuable insights into potential drug targets within the LC3/GABARAP protein family. Furthermore, we wish him the greatest success in his future career and hope to see the study soon as a peer-review publication!

Read more about his project following this link.

The preprint to the publication can be found here.