Maria specialises in chemical and structural modifications in mRNA to improve its stability in cells.

​mRNA is a new pillar in modern medicine which can encode any protein of interest, from viral antigens to chimeric antigen receptors, which are the focus of my research. Maria's project involves making mRNA more stable by circularising it and trying different chemical modifications to improve its stability and translation in cells. The stable mRNA will then be used to encode EphA2 and ROR1 chimeric antigen receptors which target these respective antigens, expressed on cancer cells and making them 'visible' to natural killer cells and targeting them to destruction. Another aim of Maria's research is to assess metalorganic nanoparticles as a stable, safe and cheaper alternative to lipid nanoparticles.

​Proteins involved in immunity and disease - Prof. Bostjan Kobe (2020-2021), Mutagenesis of SARM1 protein's TIR domain to assess its role in Wallerian neurodegeneration

Natural Killer Cell Lab - Dr. Fernando Sousa-Fonseca Guimaraes (2020-current), Designing novel pathways of NK cell cancer immunotherapies, Assessment of alternative binding candidates of murine monoclonal TLR4 antibody

Cryptococcus Neoformans Lab - Prof. James Fraser (2021-2022), Assessment of de-novo purine biosynthesis pathways in C.Neoformans to find novel antifungal drug targets

Peptide Drug Laboratory - Dr. Richard Clark (2021), Design of C3aR1-specific agonist peptide to alleviate chronic complement system activation

mRNA as medicine - Dr. Seth Cheetham (current), Optimisation of mRNA chemical and structural stability to improve its half-life in cells. To make it deliverable to NK cells for prolonged protein expression. To prolong NK cell lifespan using mRNA technology for improved immunotherapeutics