Product Development Chemist/Biochemist
With 200 million cases a year, and the death of a child every minute, malaria remains one of the world’s biggest problems. One issue is that patients get to hospital too late for drug treatments to be effective, due to high parasite burdens, with mortality rates of up to 20%. The drugs are toxic, and can cause serious side-effects. The chances of survival and time to recovery are both dependent on a patient’s parasitaemia when starting treatment. Furthermore, resistance to frontline drugs, which has been catastrophic in the past, is again spreading in SE Asia. There are no treatment options available to drug-resistant patients.
MediSieve Ltd is developing a novel medical device to treat malaria which could turn back the clock for these patients by rapidly and safely reducing their parasitaemia. It is a ‘dialysis-like’ technique, continuously pumping a patient’s blood through a magnetic filter via an external blood loop. The filter captures and removes malaria infected red blood cells from the bloodstream, using their distinct, naturally occurring magnetic properties; the rest of the blood returns to the patient unharmed.
Primarily intended as a complement to drugs, the device can be used to treat any malaria patient (including infants and pregnant women). Easy to use and cheap to manufacture, it could have a significant impact on severe malaria mortality, and be a very valuable tool in the fight against drug-resistance, as it can be used as a standalone treatment. Removing (rather than killing) infected cells provides substantial clinical benefits over drug treatments, improving outcomes.
The Product Development Chemist/Biochemist will join a three-person Product Development team, working alongside a Product Development Engineer and reporting daily to the Product Development Manager, Dr Cristina Blanco Andujar. The line manager of all three members of the Product Development team is the company’s CEO, Dr George Frodsham, to whom weekly reports will be made.
The post is newly created and, as such, the post holders will be expected to develop the role with the CEO and colleagues as the company grows.
The post is a full-time, permanent appointment in the company, subject to ratification as such at a performance-based probation review meeting that will take place not less than six months or more than nine months after the date of appointment.
The place of work will be in the company’s offices and/or laboratories, the location of which may change from time to time. In July 2017 the company is moving into new premises in the Translation & Innovation Hub building at 80 Wood Lane, White City, London, W12 0BZ.
Main duties and responsibilities:
- Taking responsibility in developing new techniques to functionalise beads with antibodies, aptamers and other entities.
- The MediSieve Filter is a single-use filter through which blood flows. The filter is designed in such a way that the laminar flow channels are continually splitting and reforming as the blood passes through the filter, resulting in a device for which each and every element within the blood has an equal and non-zero probability of passing through one of the many magnetic capture zones within the filter. This combination of the instigation of a three-dimensional, labyrinthine, laminar flow multiplex alongside a multitude of local magnetic attraction and capture zones is what makes the MediSieve Filter suitable for haemofiltration. The capture zones are exploited to remove different magnetic entities from the patient´s blood.
- Magnetic beads will be incorporated to the extracorporeal loop functionalised with different entities such as antibodies, aptamers, among others. The capture zones of the filter will be exploited to selectively remove different entities from the blood stream, depending on the nature of the used functionalised beads.
- The candidate will have experience working in functionalisation of beads or surfaces with antibodies, aptamers and other entities, ideally, via oriented conjugation. An understanding of the interaction of the system with whole blood is desirable à the candidate may be a person that has worked in the development of biosensors for the detection of entities in blood or other body fluids (i.e. someone working in the development of a pregnancy test)
Note: This job description reflects the present requirements of the post. However, the post requires adaptability to changing needs, particularly as the company grows, and will necessarily include other tasks as may be required from time to time. Consequently, as duties and responsibilities change or develop, the job description will be reviewed and be subject to amendment in consultation with the post holder.
The person appointed will be expected to possess the following essential, E, or desirable, D, skills and experience, which will be assessed at the application stage (A), and/or at interview (I):
- A clear understanding of the culture of an ambitious start-up company and the processes for influencing changes in strategy or culture in such an environment – E (A/I)
- Exceptionally strong analytical and problem-solving skills in relation to product development – E (A/I)
- Ability to think creatively and ‘outside the box’ in relation to new product development and optimization – E (A/I)
- Educated to first degree standard or equivalent – E (A)
- Postgraduate Degree or equivalent in biochemical or related discipline – D (A)
- Experience of working in the fields of bead/surface functionalisation – E (A/I)
- Experience of working with antibodies – E (A/I)
- Experience of working with cell culture (BSL 1 or 2) – D (A/I)
- Experience of working in the field of haematology and blood interaction – D (A/I)
- Experience of working in the field of blood interaction with medical devices – D (A/I)
- Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to research, draft, critique and present reports on complex issues to a broad range of audiences – E (I)
- Ability to work independently to manage, prioritise workload and also work collaboratively in a team – E (I)
- Self-motivated, pro-active, innovative and enthusiastic – E (I)