How cells communicate focus of new research

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have been awarded £5 million to investigate how cells respond to stimuli such as stress and UV radiation.

Biologists at Liverpool will investigate the role of the NF-kappaB signalling system to determine how cells decide when to die. NFkB governs responses within cells to stimuli such as stress and the immune system, but when this system goes wrong it is thought that it can lead to cancer, inflammatory problems and septic shock.

Professor Mike White, from the University’s School of Biological Sciences, said: “Systems Biology involves the analysis of how biological processes work at all levels. This goes from the interactions between individual biological molecules, to the physiology and behaviour of animals and plants. With this grant we can develop models to understand more clearly how cells communicate with each other.”

The project - in collaboration with the Universities of Manchester and Warwick - is a multidisciplinary collaboration involving scientists in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, veterinary scientists and mathematicians.

A second team from the School of Biological Sciences, headed by Dr Anthony Hall has been awarded a further £1 million as part of a £5 million project led by scientists at the University of Edinburgh to develop a model of how plants cope with temperature changes. The research could help to develop higher-yield crops that are better able to survive in harsh conditions, thus allowing scientists to develop plants capable of withstanding the possible effects of global warming.

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