Natalie Marie Hendrikse
Enzymes are biological catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions and thereby enable life as we know it. Based on the DNA sequences of enzymes that exist today we can statistically reconstruct enzymes that once existed, as long as 3 billion years ago, using a method called ancestral sequence reconstruction. This look into the past can give us insight into the evolution of enzymes over time and provide us with alternative starting points for enzyme engineering efforts.
I am an industrial PhD student and my project is a collaboration between KTH and Sobi, a Swedish biopharmaceutical company that develops drugs for rare diseases. My projects are related to rare genetic enzyme deficiency diseases, where we aim to develop therapeutic enzymes towards treatment of these diseases. With a background in (bio)medical engineering I feel very passionate about the application of science to society, which really makes me appreciate the opportunity of an industrial PhD.
The goal of my research is to apply ancestral sequence reconstruction as an enzyme engineering method to improve the therapeutic properties of enzymes, in particular their activity and stability. Using ancestral sequence reconstruction, we have been able to create new enzymes with increased stability, activity and substrate selectivity that could be interesting for various applications. You can read more about this here and here. I am particularly interested in improving therapeutic properties of enzymes that could be used to treat metabolic disorders related to amino acid catabolism and lysosomal storage diseases.