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News Article | February 23, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A major new £100 million investment by the government into the development of an innovative multi-disciplinary science and technology research centre was announced today (Thursday 23rd February) by Business Secretary Greg Clark. The new Rosalind Franklin Institute (RFI) - named in honour of the pioneering British scientist whose use of X-rays to study biological structures played a crucial role in the discovery of DNA's 'double helix' structure by Francis Crick and James Watson - will bring together UK strengths in the physical sciences, engineering and life sciences to create a national centre of excellence in technology development and innovation. Business Secretary Greg Clark said: "The UK has always been a pioneer in the world of science, technology and medical research. It's this excellence we want to continue to build on and why we made science and research a central part of our Industrial Strategy - strengthening links between research and industry, ensuring more home-grown innovation continues to benefit millions around the world. "Named after one of the UK's leading chemists, the new Rosalind Franklin Institute will inspire and house scientists who could be responsible for the next great discovery that will maintain the UK's position at the forefront of global science for years to come." Delivered and managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the RFI will bring together academic and industry researchers from across the UK to develop disruptive new technologies designed to tackle major challenges in health and life sciences, accelerate the discovery of new treatments for chronic diseases affecting millions of people around the world (such as dementia), and deliver new jobs and long-term growth to the local and UK economies. Chair of the Research Councils and EPSRC Chief Executive, Professor Philip Nelson said: "The UK is currently in a world leading position when it comes to developing new medical treatments and technologies in the life sciences. However, other countries are alive to the potential and are already investing heavily. The Rosalind Franklin Institute will help secure the country as one of the best places in the world to research, discover, and innovate." The central hub at Harwell will link to partner sites at the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Manchester and Oxford, Imperial College, King's College London, and University College London. Industry partners will be on board from the outset, and the Institute will grow over time, as more universities and researchers participate. The work at new Institute will contribute directly to the delivery of EPSRC's 'Healthy Nation' prosperity outcome, its Healthcare Technologies programme, and to the Technology Touching Life initiative that spans three research councils (the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and EPSRC) and seeks to foster interdisciplinary technology development research across the engineering, physical and life sciences. The development of the RFI has been led by Professor Ian Walmsley, FRS, from the University of Oxford, who said: "This is a new joint venture between some of the UK's leading universities and key partners in industry and research councils. The aim is to speed the application of cutting-edge physical science insights, methods and techniques to health and life sciences by providing an interface between research programmes at the forefront of these areas, co-located at Harwell and connected, dynamically, to the wider UK research base. "We anticipate innovative new businesses will grow from this effort over time, as the Institute will engage with a range of key industries from inception. A collaborative joint venture model allows the RFI to make the most of interactions and draw on a wide range of existing research excellence from across the UK." Patrick Vallance President of R&D at GSK said: "We welcome the creation of the RFI which will bring world-leading, multi-disciplinary teams from industry and academia closer together, and will further strengthen the UK as a place to translate excellent science into patient benefit. Through collaboration we will be able to make advances in life science technologies much quicker than we could manage alone." Research at the RFI will initially be centred on five selected technology themes, focusing on next-generation imaging technologies - X-ray science, correlated imaging (combining X-ray, electron and light microscopy), imaging by sound and light, and biological mass spectrometry - and on new chemical methods and strategies for drug discovery. Dame Carol Robinson, FRS, who is leading the RFI's biological mass spectrometry theme, and received the 2004 Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award that recognises outstanding scientific contributions and supports the promotion of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, said: "It is fitting that this new Institute bears Rosalind Franklin's name. She achieved so much in a relatively short life and without her work many of the advances that have taken place since would not have come about. Work in the Institute will include development of the next-generation of physical tools including mass spectrometry, instruments for X-ray science and for advanced microscopy - fields directly descended from her research interests." For further information please contact the EPSRC Press Office on 01793 444 404 or email pressoffice@epsrc.ac.uk As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate. By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. We work collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. http://www. The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and tackling some of the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security. The Council has a broad science portfolio and works with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar. STFC operates or hosts world class experimental facilities including in the UK the ISIS pulsed neutron source, the Central Laser Facility, and LOFAR, and is also the majority shareholder in Diamond Light Source Ltd. It enables UK researchers to access leading international science facilities by funding membership of international bodies including European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO). STFC is one of seven publicly-funded research councils. It is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Follow us on Twitter at @STFC_Matters. http://www. BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond. Funded by Government, BBSRC invested £473M in world-class bioscience, people and research infrastructure in 2015-16. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact. The Medical Research Council is at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers' money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Thirty-one MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. http://www. Diamond Light Source is the UK's synchrotron science facility, and is approximately the size of Wembley Stadium. It works like a giant microscope, harnessing the power of electrons to produce bright light that scientists can use to study anything from fossils to jet engines to viruses and vaccines. Diamond is used by thousands of academic and industrial researchers across a wide range of disciplines, including structural biology, health and medicine, solid-state physics, materials & magnetism, nanoscience, electronics, earth & environmental sciences, chemistry, cultural heritage, energy and engineering. Many everyday commodities that we take for granted, from food manufacturing to consumer products, from revolutionary drugs to surgical tools, from computers to mobile phones, have all been developed or improved using synchrotron light. Diamond generates extremely intense pin-point beams of synchrotron light. These are of exceptional quality, and range from X-rays to ultraviolet to infrared. Diamond's X-rays are around 10 billion times brighter than the sun. Diamond is one of the most advanced scientific facilities in the world, and its pioneering capabilities are helping to keep the UK at the forefront of scientific research. 2017 marks a double celebration for Diamond - 15 years since the company was formed, and 10 years of research and innovation. In this time, researchers who have obtained their data at Diamond have authored over 5,000 papers. The institute is funded by the UK Government through the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), and by the Wellcome Trust For more information about Diamond visit http://www. Harwell Campus is a public private partnership between Harwell Oxford Partners, U+I Group PLC and two Government backed agencies, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the UK Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA). Harwell is one of the world's most important science and innovation locations. It has a growing reputation as the UK's gateway to space with over 65 space and satellite applications related organisations located on campus and is now seeing rapid growth in the Life Sciences and HealthTec sector with over 1,000 people working in this field alone at Harwell. In addition to space and life sciences, the campus hosts an array of other key sectors including, Big Data and Supercomputing, Energy and Environment and Advanced Engineering and Materials. With a legacy of many world firsts, the campus comprises 710 acres, over 200 organisations and 5,500 people. Harwell Campus is the UK's National Science Facility and is among Europe and the world's leading sites dedicated to the advancement of science, technology and innovation. Having spent 75 years at the forefront of British innovation and discovery, Harwell Campus continues to drive scientific advancements to the benefit of the UK economy and centred around a community hub. Science experts, academics, government organisations, private sector R&D departments and investors create an environment where innovation, collaboration and discovery thrive. To find out more about events, open days or the new developments, visit http://www. or call 01235 250091


Harwell Campus SWINDON, 27-Feb-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — A major new £100 million investment by the government into the development of an innovative multi-disciplinary science and technology research centre was announced today (Thursday 23 February 2017) by Business Secretary Greg Clark. The new Rosalind Franklin Institute (RFI) – named in honour of the pioneering British scientist whose use of X-rays to study biological structures played a crucial role in the discovery of DNA‘s ‘double helix’ structure by Francis Crick and James Watson – will bring together UK strengths in the physical sciences, engineering and life sciences to create a national centre of excellence in technology development and innovation. The new Rosalind Franklin Institute will have a hub based at the Harwell campus It will bring together UK expertise to develop new technologies that will transform our understanding of disease and speed up the development of new treatments Part of the government’s Industrial Strategy to maintain the UK’s global leadership in science, innovation and research Business Secretary Greg Clark said: The UK has always been a pioneer in the world of science, technology and medical research. It’s this excellence we want to continue to build on and why we made science and research a central part of our Industrial Strategy – strengthening links between research and industry, ensuring more home-grown innovation continues to benefit millions around the world. Named after one of the UK’s leading chemists, the new Rosalind Franklin Institute will inspire and house scientists who could be responsible for the next great discovery that will maintain the UK’s position at the forefront of global science for years to come. Delivered and managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the RFI will bring together academic and industry researchers from across the UK to develop disruptive new technologies designed to tackle major challenges in health and life sciences, accelerate the discovery of new treatments for chronic diseases affecting millions of people around the world (such as dementia), and deliver new jobs and long-term growth to the local and UK economies. Chair of the Research Councils and EPSRC Chief Executive, Professor Philip Nelson said: The UK is currently in a world leading position when it comes to developing new medical treatments and technologies in the life sciences. However, other countries are alive to the potential and are already investing heavily. The Rosalind Franklin Institute will help secure the country as one of the best places in the world to research, discover, and innovate. The central hub at Harwell will link to partner sites at the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Manchester and Oxford, Imperial College, King’s College London, and University College London. Industry partners will be on board from the outset, and the Institute will grow over time, as more universities and researchers participate. The work at new Institute will contribute directly to the delivery of EPSRC‘s ‘Healthy Nation’ prosperity outcome, its Healthcare Technologies programme, and to the Technology Touching Life initiative that spans three research councils (the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and EPSRC) and seeks to foster interdisciplinary technology development research across the engineering, physical and life sciences. The development of the RFI has been led by Professor Ian Walmsley, FRS, from the University of Oxford, who said: This is a new joint venture between some of the UK’s leading universities and key partners in industry and research councils. The aim is to speed the application of cutting-edge physical science insights, methods and techniques to health and life sciences by providing an interface between research programmes at the forefront of these areas, co-located at Harwell and connected, dynamically, to the wider UK research base. We anticipate innovative new businesses will grow from this effort over time, as the Institute will engage with a range of key industries from inception. A collaborative joint venture model allows the RFI to make the most of interactions and draw on a wide range of existing research excellence from across the UK. Patrick Vallance, President of R&D at GSK said: We welcome the creation of the RFI which will bring world-leading, multi-disciplinary teams from industry and academia closer together, and will further strengthen the UK as a place to translate excellent science into patient benefit. Through collaboration we will be able to make advances in life science technologies much quicker than we could manage alone. Research at the RFI will initially be centred on five selected technology themes, focusing on next-generation imaging technologies – X-ray science, correlated imaging (combining X-ray, electron and light microscopy), imaging by sound and light, and biological mass spectrometry – and on new chemical methods and strategies for drug discovery. Dame Carol Robinson, FRS, who is leading the RFI‘s biological mass spectrometry theme, and received the 2004 Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award that recognises outstanding scientific contributions and supports the promotion of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, said: It is fitting that this new Institute bears Rosalind Franklin’s name. She achieved so much in a relatively short life and without her work many of the advances that have taken place since would not have come about. Work in the Institute will include development of the next-generation of physical tools including mass spectrometry, instruments for X-ray science and for advanced microscopy – fields directly descended from her research interests. Notes for Editors: The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate. By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. We work collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) STFC is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and tackling some of the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security. The Council has a broad science portfolio and works with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar. STFC operates or hosts world class experimental facilities including in the UK the ISIS pulsed neutron source, the Central Laser Facility, and LOFAR, and is also the majority shareholder in Diamond Light Source Ltd. It enables UK researchers to access leading international science facilities by funding membership of international bodies including European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO). STFC is one of seven publicly-funded research councils. It is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond. Funded by Government, BBSRC invested £473M in world-class bioscience, people and research infrastructure in 2015-16. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes. The Medical Research Council (MRC) The Medical Research Council is at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Thirty-one MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. www.mrc.ac.uk Diamond Light Source Diamond Light Source is the UK’s synchrotron science facility, and is approximately the size of Wembley Stadium. It works like a giant microscope, harnessing the power of electrons to produce bright light that scientists can use to study anything from fossils to jet engines to viruses and vaccines. Diamond is used by thousands of academic and industrial researchers across a wide range of disciplines, including structural biology, health and medicine, solid-state physics, materials & magnetism, nanoscience, electronics, earth & environmental sciences, chemistry, cultural heritage, energy and engineering. Many everyday commodities that we take for granted, from food manufacturing to consumer products, from revolutionary drugs to surgical tools, from computers to mobile phones, have all been developed or improved using synchrotron light. Diamond generates extremely intense pin-point beams of synchrotron light. These are of exceptional quality, and range from X-rays to ultraviolet to infrared. Diamond’s X-rays are around 10 billion times brighter than the sun. Diamond is one of the most advanced scientific facilities in the world, and its pioneering capabilities are helping to keep the UK at the forefront of scientific research. 2017 marks a double celebration for Diamond – 15 years since the company was formed, and 10 years of research and innovation. In this time, researchers who have obtained their data at Diamond have authored over 5,000 papers. The institute is funded by the UK Government through the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), and by the Wellcome Trust The Harwell Campus Harwell Campus is a public private partnership between Harwell Oxford Partners, U+I Group PLC and two Government backed agencies, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the UK Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA). Harwell is one of the world’s most important science and innovation locations. It has a growing reputation as the UK’s gateway to space with over 65 space and satellite applications related organisations located on campus and is now seeing rapid growth in the Life Sciences and HealthTec sector with over 1,000 people working in this field alone at Harwell. In addition to space and life sciences, the campus hosts an array of other key sectors including, Big Data and Supercomputing, Energy and Environment and Advanced Engineering and Materials. With a legacy of many world firsts, the campus comprises 710 acres, over 200 organisations and 5,500 people. Harwell Campus is the UK’s National Science Facility and is among Europe and the world’s leading sites dedicated to the advancement of science, technology and innovation. Having spent 75 years at the forefront of British innovation and discovery, Harwell Campus continues to drive scientific advancements to the benefit of the UK economy and centred around a community hub. Science experts, academics, government organisations, private sector R&D departments and investors create an environment where innovation, collaboration and discovery thrive. Harwell’s Cluster Strategy The Cluster of about 70 Space organisations at Harwell is testament to the power of co-locating industry, academia and the public sector alongside investors and entrepreneurs. The European Space Agency, RAL Space, The UK Space Agency, Airbus, Thales Alenia Space, Lockheed Martin, and Deimos Space UK can all be found on the Campus. This creates many opportunities for collaboration, increasing capability and sharing risk. Being within a Cluster brings access to high-quality common infrastructure, facilities and expertise, alongside exposure to new markets The Harwell vision is to be home to a number of Clusters that exploit the existing strengths of the Campus. The next step is a new HealthTec Cluster that will benefit from the considerable synergies across the life and physical sciences capabilities of the Campus and the Space cluster. These clusters will enrich each other, creating a powerful multidisciplinary environment tailored to problem solving that will allow the UK to compete with the best in the world. The clustering of industries, facilities and science experts has given rise to the term Harwell Effect – and is an ideal model for future science and business innovation programmes. Science clusters drive economic growth. MIT has created businesses with a combined value of $3tn, the equivalent of California’s GDP. Harwell Campus is the only location in the UK with the potential to emulate this success. To find out more about events, open days or the new developments, visit the Harwell Campus website. SOURCE: EPSRC Contact Details In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column. Name: EPSRC Press Office Telephone: 01793 444404


News Article | October 4, 2016
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

Researchers are hopeful of a cure for HIV after treating the first patient with a promising new treatment that could kill all traces of the virus. The study involves activating 'sleeping' HIV-infected cells in the body – but researchers say it will take until the conclusion of the study in 2018 to know if there has been an effect on curing HIV. A partnership sparked by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is behind this collaborative UK effort for the new treatment, which is a first-of-its-kind. Six years ago this month, a meeting took place between five leading UK research establishments, including Oxford University, which resulted in a shared commitment to find a cure for HIV. The meeting identified that while there is research into treatment of HIV, as there is for many chronic conditions, there was no research into eradication of the disease. Each of the British research institutions present – Oxford University, the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, King's College London and University College London – agreed that they could provide a part of the jigsaw needed to find the cure, but could not achieve this in isolation. Mark Samuels, managing director of the National Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure (NOCRI), part of the NIHR, said: 'This was a meeting of some of the UK's top medical research leaders, and it was a privilege to encourage joining forces. We understand the power in brokering crucial relationships to pioneer health breakthroughs, and this meeting was a prime example of that. Together, we identified a research need which could only be achieved by creating a collaboration between these leading establishments.' The Medical Research Council awarded one of the first joint grants to these five leading biomedical research institutions, which joined together to form CHERUB (Collaborative HIV Eradication of viral Reservoirs: UK BRC) – a cooperative of UK Biomedical Research Centres engaging internationally to find a cure for HIV. CHERUB brings together, among others, clinicians, virologists, immunologists, molecular biologists and mathematical modellers under the umbrella of the NIHR. In the six years since the initial meeting, progress has included the 'Kick and Kill' initiative, which is recruiting 50 participants for a study in which researchers activate HIV-infected cells that are 'asleep'. By waking them and treating them with an inhibitor drug, the body's own immune system is encouraged to fight the disease. Current antiretroviral therapy treatment for HIV suppresses but does not kill the virus, because it only works on HIV-infected cells that are active. Most cells infected with HIV in the human body contain resting or sleeping virus, representing an invisible reservoir of HIV that makes the infection difficult to cure. Professor Sarah Fidler of Imperial College London, co-principal investigator on the study, said: 'The first participant has now completed the intervention, and we have found it to be safe and well tolerated. Only when all 50 study participants have completed the whole study, by 2018, will we be able to tell if there has been an effect on curing HIV. Professor John Frater's lab in Oxford will lead on the tests and assays to determine if the trial has had an effect.'


News Article | November 21, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A study published today in the journal PLOS Medicine has identified the five genetic variants associated with higher levels of the branched-chain amino acids isoleucine, leucine and valine. The researchers also found that these genetic variants were associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The researchers, led by the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, used large-scale genetic data together with detailed measurements of the branched-chain amino acids and their metabolites in the blood of more than 16,000 volunteers*. Branched-chain amino acids have fundamental roles in human metabolism and are building blocks of proteins. Unlike some of the other 20 amino acids, they cannot be made by the human body. This means that their levels depend entirely on external sources, from food sources or dietary supplements, and the ability of our body to metabolise them. To date, while higher circulating levels of branched-chain amino acids have been found to be associated with type 2 diabetes, no study has been able to establish whether this link is causal. This is important, because if the relationship is found to be causal, reducing dietary intake or altering the metabolism of these amino acids could help to prevent diabetes, an increasingly common and serious disease. The researchers studied over 10 million genetic variants in more than 16,000 men and women and discovered five regions of the human genome with genetic differences that are associated with higher levels of circulating branched-chain amino acids. They then found that in 300,000 individuals**, including 40,000 diabetes patients, those carrying the genetic differences associated with higher levels of branched-chain amino acids were also found to be at increased risk of type 2 diabetes, providing strong evidence of a causal link. PPM1K, the gene found to be most strongly associated with levels of all three amino acids and also with a higher risk of diabetes, encodes a known regulator of the key step in the breakdown of branched-chain amino acids. This suggests that an impaired breakdown of these amino acids may put individuals at higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Intervening on this pathway may reduce diabetes risk. "Our results suggest that treatment strategies which target metabolism of branched-chain amino acids could help to reduce the risk of diabetes, and we already know which molecules target this metabolic pathway", says Dr Claudia Langenberg from the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge. Clinical trials will now need to be carried out to establish if drugs that target the breakdown of branched-chain amino acids can reduce the risks of type 2 diabetes. *16,000 volunteers were from the Fenland Study & meta-analysis of KORA and TwinsUK studies. ** 300,000 individuals were from the Diabetes Genetics Replication and Meta-analysis, EPIC_InterAct, GoDART and UK Biobank For further information or to request an interview with a researcher involved with the study, please contact the MRC press office on +44(0)207 395 2345 (Out of Hours: +44(0)7818 428 297) or email press.office@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk Paper details: Genetic Predisposition to an Impaired Metabolism of the Branched-Chain Amino Acids and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Mendelian Randomisation Analysis. Luca Lotta et al. PLOS Medicine. After embargo paper will be available here: http://dx. The Medical Research Council is at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers' money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Thirty-one MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. http://www. The MRC Epidemiology Unit is a department at the University of Cambridge. It studies the genetic, developmental and environmental factors that cause obesity, type 2 diabetes and related metabolic disorders. The outcomes from these studies are then used to develop strategies for the prevention of these diseases in the general population. http://www.


News Article | November 28, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A liver hormone called 'FGF21' may regulate alcohol drinking by acting directly on a receptor in the brain, according to a new study by researchers from King's College London, Imperial College London and UT Southwestern Medical Center. For the first time this study highlights a liver-brain axis which plays an important role in regulating the consumption of alcohol, raising the possibility of a new therapeutic pathway that could one day be targeted to reduce the desire for alcohol in problem drinkers. Alcohol drinking is a complex trait that is known to be partly inherited, yet so far there have been few genes associated with it. Genetic influences on brain functions that affect drinking behaviour have been difficult to detect because the effect of individual genes is so small, so large studies are required to detect the genetic signal. In this new study, published today in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers carried out the largest-ever genetic analysis of usual (i.e. non-addictive) alcohol consumption in more than 105,000 individuals of European descent. In addition to providing samples for genetic analysis, the participants answered questionnaires on their weekly drinking habits. They found variations of a gene called β-Klotho that were related to the amount of alcohol people were consuming, indicating that this gene may regulate drinking behaviour. The less frequent variant - seen in approximately 40 percent of people in the study - was associated with a decreased desire to drink alcohol. To examine whether β-Klotho affects alcohol drinking in mice, and whether it does so through actions in the brain, they also measured alcohol intake and alcohol preference of mice in which β-Klotho had been removed. They found that mice lacking β-Klotho in the brain showed significantly increased alcohol preference and consumption compared to mice with β-Klotho, indicating that intact β-Klotho might help to control alcohol intake. Under normal conditions FGF21 inhibits alcohol preference in mice. However, when these mice were lacking β-Klotho, FGF21 had no effect on drinking behaviour, suggesting that FGF21's effects on alcohol consumption depend on β-Klotho expression in the brain. The researchers also found that mice lacking β-Klotho did not show any difference in measures of anxiety, which might influence drinking behaviour, compared to mice with β-Klotho. Professor Gunter Schumann from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London, said: 'Our study reveals a previously unrecognised liver-brain pathway which regulates alcohol consumption in humans, and which could one day be targeted therapeutically to suppress consumption in problem drinkers. 'The results point towards an intriguing feedback loop, where FGF21 is produced in the liver in response to sugar and alcohol intake, which then acts directly on the brain to limit consumption.' Professor Schumann added: 'We cannot rule out the possibility that β-Klotho acts by affecting neighbouring genes, so further genetic studies are warranted. It will also be important to explore these findings in more severe forms of alcohol drinking, as we only examined non-addictive consumption.' Professor Paul Elliott from Imperial College London said: 'Alcohol drinking in excess is a major public health problem worldwide and we need to find new ways of reducing the harmful effects of alcohol in the population. Even small shifts downward in the average amount of alcohol people drink may have major health benefits.' He added: 'The results of our study point to a previously unrecognised genetic determinant of alcohol drinking among the general population. Our findings may eventually lead to new treatments for people whose health is being harmed by drinking.' This study was funded by the Medical Research Council, the European Commission and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. For further media information please contact Jack Stonebridge, Press Officer, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London jack.stonebridge@kcl.ac.uk/ 020 7848 5377. King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (2016/17 QS World University Rankings) and among the oldest in England. King's has more than 26,500 students (of whom nearly 10,400 are graduate students) from some 150 countries worldwide, and nearly 6,900 staff. The university is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate. King's has an outstanding reputation for world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) King's was ranked 6th nationally in the 'power' ranking, which takes into account both the quality and quantity of research activity, and 7th for quality according to Times Higher Education rankings. Eighty-four per cent of research at King's was deemed 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent' (3* and 4*). The university is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of more than £600 million. King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine, nursing and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: http://www. . Imperial College London is one of the world's leading universities. The College's 16,000 students and 8,000 staff are expanding the frontiers of knowledge in science, medicine, engineering and business, and translating their discoveries into benefits for society. Founded in 1907, Imperial builds on a distinguished past - having pioneered penicillin, holography and fibre optics - to shape the future. Imperial researchers work across disciplines to improve health and wellbeing, understand the natural world, engineer novel solutions and lead the data revolution. This blend of academic excellence and its real-world application feeds into Imperial's exceptional learning environment, where students participate in research to push the limits of their degrees. Imperial collaborates widely to achieve greater impact. It works with the NHS to improve healthcare in west London, is a leading partner in research and education within the European Union, and is the UK's number one research collaborator with China. Imperial has nine London campuses, including its White City Campus: a research and innovation centre that is in its initial stages of development in west London. At White City, researchers, businesses and higher education partners will co-locate to create value from ideas on a global scale. The Medical Research Council is at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers' money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Thirty-one MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. http://www.


Mifsud J.,The Medical Research Council
Molecular membrane biology | Year: 2013

The mitochondrial ADP/ATP carrier imports ADP from the cytosol into the mitochondrial matrix for its conversion to ATP by ATP synthase and exports ATP out of the mitochondrion to replenish the eukaryotic cell with chemical energy. Here the substrate specificity of the human mitochondrial ADP/ATP carrier AAC1 was determined by two different approaches. In the first the protein was functionally expressed in Escherichia coli membranes as a fusion protein with maltose binding protein and the effect of excess of unlabeled compounds on the uptake of [(32)P]-ATP was measured. In the second approach the protein was expressed in the cytoplasmic membrane of Lactococcus lactis. The uptake of [(14)C]-ADP in whole cells was measured in the presence of excess of unlabeled compounds and in fused membrane vesicles loaded with unlabeled compounds to demonstrate their transport. A large number of nucleotides were tested, but only ADP and ATP are suitable substrates for human AAC1, demonstrating a very narrow specificity. Next we tried to understand the molecular basis of this specificity by carrying out molecular-dynamics simulations with selected nucleotides, which were placed at the entrance of the central cavity. The binding of the phosphate groups of guanine and adenine nucleotides is similar, yet there is a low probability for the base moiety to be bound, likely to be rooted in the greater polarity of guanine compared to adenine. AMP is unlikely to engage fully with all contact points of the substrate binding site, suggesting that it cannot trigger translocation.


Kunji E.R.S.,The Medical Research Council | Crichton P.G.,The Medical Research Council
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics | Year: 2010

Mitochondrial carriers link biochemical pathways in the mitochondrial matrix and cytosol by transporting metabolites, inorganic ions, nucleotides and cofactors across the mitochondrial inner membrane. Uncoupling proteins that dissipate the proton electrochemical gradient also belong to this protein family. For almost 35. years the general consensus has been that mitochondrial carriers are dimeric in structure and function. This view was based on data from inhibitor binding studies, small-angle neutron scattering, electron microscopy, differential tagging/affinity chromatography, size-exclusion chromatography, analytical ultracentrifugation, native gel electrophoresis, cross-linking experiments, tandem-fusions, negative dominance studies and mutagenesis. However, the structural folds of the ADP/ATP carriers were found to be monomeric, lacking obvious dimerisation interfaces. Subsequently, the yeast ADP/ATP carrier was demonstrated to function as a monomer. Here, we revisit the data that have been published in support of a dimeric state of mitochondrial carriers. Our analysis shows that when critical factors are taken into account, the monomer is the only plausible functional form of mitochondrial carriers. We propose a transport model based on the monomer, in which access to a single substrate binding site is controlled by two flanking salt bridge networks, explaining uniport and strict exchange of substrates. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Kunji E.R.S.,The Medical Research Council | Robinson A.J.,The Medical Research Council
Current Opinion in Structural Biology | Year: 2010

Members of the mitochondrial carrier family are involved in transporting keto acids, amino acids, nucleotides, inorganic ions and co-factors across the mitochondrial inner membrane. The transporters are thought to share the same structural fold, which consists of six trans-membrane α-helices and three matrix helices, arranged with threefold pseudo-symmetry. During the transport cycle two salt bridge networks on either side of the central cavity might regulate access to a single substrate binding site in an alternating fashion. In the case of proton-substrate symporters the substrate binding sites contain also negatively charged residues that are proposed to be involved in proton transport. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

A review of worldwide studies has found that add-on treatment with high-dose b-vitamins - including B6, B8 and B12 - can significantly reduce symptoms of schizophrenia more than standard treatments alone. The research - on the effect of vitamin and mineral supplements on symptoms of schizophrenia - is funded by The Medical Research Council and University of Manchester, and is published in Psychological Medicine, one of the world's leading psychology journals "Looking at all of the data from clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements for schizophrenia to date, we can see that B vitamins effectively improve outcomes for some patients," said lead author Joseph Firth, based at the University's Division of Psychology and Mental Health. "This could be an important advance, given that new treatments for this condition are so desperately needed." Schizophrenia affects around one percent of the population and is among the most disabling and costly long term conditions worldwide. Currently, treatment is based around the administration of antipsychotic drugs. Although patients typically experience remission of symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions within the first few months of treatment, long-term outcomes are poor; 80 percent of patients relapse within five years. The researchers reviewed all randomized clinical trials reporting effects of vitamin or mineral supplements on psychiatric symptoms in people with schizophrenia. In what is the first meta-analysis carried out on this topic, they identified 18 clinical trials with a combined total of 832 patients receiving antipsychotic treatment for schizophrenia. B-vitamin interventions which used higher dosages or combined several vitamins were consistently effective for reducing psychiatric symptoms, whereas those which used lower doses were ineffective. Also, the available evidence also suggests that B-vitamin supplements may be most beneficial when implemented early on, as b-vitamins were most likely to reduce symptoms when used in studies of patients with shorter illness durations. "High-dose B-vitamins may be useful for reducing residual symptoms in people with schizophrenia, although there were significant differences among the findings of the studies we looked at," added Firth. "There is also some indication that these overall effects may be driven by larger benefits among subgroups of patients who have relevant genetic or dietary nutritional deficiencies." "This builds on existing evidence of other food-derived supplements, such as certain amino-acids, been beneficial for people with schizophrenia," said co-author Jerome Sarris, professor of integrative mental health at Western Sydney University. "These new findings also fit with our latest research examining how multi-nutrient treatments can reduce depression and other disorders." The research team say more studies are now needed to discover how nutrients act on the brain to improve mental health, and to measure effects of nutrient-based treatments on other outcomes such as brain functioning and metabolic health.


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A review of worldwide studies has found that add-on treatment with high-dose b-vitamins - including B6, B8 and B12 - can significantly reduce symptoms of schizophrenia more than standard treatments alone. The research - on the effect of vitamin and mineral supplements on symptoms of schizophrenia - is funded by The Medical Research Council and University of Manchester, and is published in Psychological Medicine, one of the world's leading psychology journals Lead author Joseph Firth, based at the University's Division of Psychology and Mental Health, said: "Looking at all of the data from clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements for schizophrenia to date, we can see that B vitamins effectively improve outcomes for some patients. "This could be an important advance, given that new treatments for this condition are so desperately needed." Schizophrenia affects around 1% of the population and is among the most disabling and costly long term conditions worldwide. Currently, treatment is based around the administration of antipsychotic drugs. Although patients typically experience remission of symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions within the first few months of treatment, long-term outcomes are poor; 80% of patients relapse within five years. The researchers reviewed all randomized clinical trials reporting effects of vitamin or mineral supplements on psychiatric symptoms in people with schizophrenia. In what is the first meta-analysis carried out on this topic, they identified 18 clinical trials with a combined total of 832 patients receiving antipsychotic treatment for schizophrenia. B-vitamin interventions which used higher dosages or combined several vitamins were consistently effective for reducing psychiatric symptoms, whereas those which used lower doses were ineffective. Also, the available evidence also suggests that B-vitamin supplements may be most beneficial when implemented early on, as b-vitamins were most likely to reduce symptoms when used in studies of patients with shorter illness durations. Firth added: "High-dose B-vitamins may be useful for reducing residual symptoms in people with schizophrenia, although there were significant differences among the findings of the studies we looked at." "There is also some indication that these overall effects may be driven by larger benefits among subgroups of patients who have relevant genetic or dietary nutritional deficiencies." Co-author Jerome Sarris, Professor of Integrative Mental Health at Western Sydney University, added: "This builds on existing evidence of other food-derived supplements, such as certain amino-acids, been beneficial for people with schizophrenia. "These new findings also fit with our latest research examining how multi-nutrient treatments can reduce depression and other disorders." The research team say more studies are now needed to discover how nutrients act on the brain to improve mental health, and to measure effects of nutrient-based treatments on other outcomes such as brain functioning and metabolic health.

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