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Interview: ‘I found my sweet spot’

This is an interview with a PhD student of the Disease Intervention Strategies projects in a series of background articles. Keep following this website for the next interview in this series.

Interview with Remy M. Muts, PhD student of the Improving the functional activity of monoclonal antibodies against Gram-negative bacteria project at UMC Utrecht.

Initially looking at a career in drug development, Remy Muts’ interest in fundamental research finally brought him to where he is now: researching the complement system to find a possible therapeutic application.

I’ve always wanted to be part of the application of science, although I’m also very interested in fundamental research. After initially looking at a career in drug development, I eventually became interested microbiology and decided to do a biomedical Master’s programme called Infection and Immunity.

After two internships, one at the lab where I’m currently doing research, I found my sweet spot. It’s one of the great things about NCOH: fundamental science aimed at therapeutic applications.

My own research attempts to understand the ‘complement system’, a part of our body’s immune system. In the first place I want to learn how this system is activated by antibodies. Our body has different ways of combating pathogens. The complement system is a series of responses: a signalling system, a labelling system, and proteins that actually create pores in the surface of a targeted cell. If we can find out how the system works and what it reacts to, we could, for example, use it to combat resistant bacteria.

I’d like to identify the link between specific antibodies and the complement system. To investigate this, I will isolate single B cells that can bind a specific bacterium. What we’re looking for is the antibodies it produces to do this. These antibodies are what I need to test the link I’m searching for.

In addition to all this, in an effort to bring more NCOH researchers together I also became a member of the Young NCOH board. All my fellow researchers are doing such interesting, different things and I think we could learn a lot from each other by coming together.

PhD project: Improving the functional activity of monoclonal antibodies against Gram-negative bacteria.