PhD defence by Tine Straasø – Københavns Universitet

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PhD defence by Tine Straasø

First Tine will give a presentation of her work followed by an oral defence. Afterwards there will be a reception.

PhD defence by Tine Straasø

Malaria is a widespread and severe disease caused by an infection by the parasite of the genus Plasmodium, the lifecycle of which is very complex. During its lifecycle the parasite resides in both a mosquito and a human host. If this cycle can be disrupted at any point, it will result in the eradication of malaria.

This thesis is a step towards that goal. When examining red blood cells from an infected person under a microscope dark pigment is observed. This dark pigment is actually small crystals called hemozoin. Hemozoin is a by-product formed by the parasite and a necessity for parasitic survival. Successful inhibition of hemozoin crystallization will lead to parasitic death and thus break the cycle. The aim of this thesis is to elucidate the structure of hemozoin by means of X-ray diffraction techniques. Knowledge of the structure will help facilitate intelligent drug design in the future.

As part of the project an all-in-vacuum powder diffractometer was developed, which provides data with a minimum background level and an improved signal-to-noise ratio. Moreover, the diffractometer is designed with the particular purpose of decreasing the number of parameters to be fitted. Installation of the diffractometer at the 60 keV beamline at PETRA III, resulted in data from a diamond powder to unpreceded resolution providing accurate structure factors suitable for advanced electron density modelling.