Dr Laila Huq
B.Sc., University of Auckland,M.Sc., Hons. 1st class, University of Auckland, Ph.D, University of New South Wales.
Dr Laila Huq is a Senior Reseach Fellow at the Oral Health CRC. Her research investigations encompass how and why proteins and peptides function, how did they evolve, and do they have any diagnostic or therapeutic potential. From an early interest in bones to the curent focus on teeth, from the body fluids of milk to saliva, her research interests encompass how proteins have evolved to adapt to the appropriate shapes so they can accumulate minerals and attach to other partner proteins or cells. This information provides the basis for the future development of biomimetic materials designed to repair teeth and bones.
Other research interests encompass the various strategies on limiting the destructive effects of harmful bacteria in the gums. These bacteria in the gums have an outer perimeter located arsenal of enzymes that destroy the surrounding gum tissues allowing them to invade further. The current focus is on the design of non-toxic, peptide-based therapeutic agents that specifically target only the bacterial enzymes, in order to prevent destruction of the human tissues.
Other research interests include the nature of saliva, the protective fluid of the oral cavity that contains various multi-functional proteins ranging from the ancient mucins to the recently evolved statherins. The current focus is to examine how the salivary proteins have evolved to become a front-line defence force, capable of immediate deployment and assembly, continually patrolling the perimeters of the oral cavity. This knowledge would contribute to future development of saliva substitutes.
Other research interests include the cost management strategies that bacteria employ in order to survive in harsh environments. This knowledge is essential in understanding how harmful bacteria are successful in colonising different hosts.