KU Leuven

Targeting radionuclides to tumors using synthetic amyloids

KU Leuven

Leuven, Belgium

The VIB Switch Laboratory of KU Leuven (http://www.switchlab.org) is interested in the basic mechanisms of protein aggregation and using it for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes. The laboratory uses an interdisciplinary approach that integrates structural bio-informatics, biophysics, cell biology and animal research to advance the field. The current project is a collaboration with the laboratory of Radiopharmaceutical research of KU Leuven, that researches radionuclide-based imaging and therapy (https://gbiomed.kuleuven.be/english/research/50000715/50000723/).

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We have created the targeted aggregation platform technology hinging on the specificity of synthetic amyloid peptides that induce the directed functional knockdown of therapeutic targets. The spinoff company Aelin Therapeutics is developing this concept into novel therapeutics (https://aelintx.com/).The aim of the project is to further exploit this technology to develop a novel radiotherapy approach for cancer by using synthetic amyloids as vectors of radionuclide delivery.

  • Khodaparast, L. et al. Nature communications 9,866, doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03131-0 (2018).
  • Betti, C., Schymkowitz, J., Rousseau, F. &Russinova, E. Methods Mol Biol 1676, 109-127, doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-7315-6_6(2018).
  • Gallardo, R. et al. Science 354,doi:10.1126/science.aah4949 (2016).
  • Betti, C. et al. Plant physiology 171, 773-787,doi:10.1104/pp.16.00335 (2016).
  • Ganesan, A. et al. J Mol Biol 427, 236-247,doi:10.1016/j.jmb.2014.09.027 (2015).
  • Couceiro, J. R. et al. J Biol Chem 290,242-258, doi:10.1074/jbc.M114.586636 (2015).
  • Bednarska, N. G. et al. MolMicrobiol, doi:10.1111/mmi.13269 (2015).

The student will interact with a team of experts in both protein aggregation and radionuclide therapy and will develop novel amyloid peptides that incorporate suitable radionuclides. The student will study and develop these molecules both in cell culture and in animal models to establish their therapeutic potential.


  • You have (or are near completion of) a MSc degree in biotechnology (bio-ir), pharmaceutical sciences or chemistry or equivalent
  • You are ambitious, motivated, creative, organized, result-oriented and have skilled hands
  • You can work independently as well as in a team
  • You have good verbal and written communication skills in English
  • You have experience with or are eager to learn HPLC, peptide chemistry, biochemistry and/or radioactivity
  • You have a strong interest in novel therapeutics


We offer a PhD position in a stimulating, interdisciplinary environment and scientific development opportunities in an international and dynamic team. You will have access to state-of-the-art research facilities and will be registered in a specific program of the doctoral school. You will be supervised by well-trained scientists and receive thorough training in conducting research, presentations and writing.


To apply, please submit your motivation letter, CV, copies of transcripts/MSc degree, and names and contact information of at least two references as soon as possible to Prof. dr. Joost Schymkowitz, tel.: +32 16 37 25 73, mail: joost.schymkowitz@kuleuven.vib.be or Mrs. Hannah Wilkinson, tel.: +32 16 37 25 70, mail: hannah.wilkinson@kuleuven.vib.be.
You can apply for this job no later than December 15, 2019 via the online application tool
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be

Please apply via recruiter’s website.