University of Leicester awarded BBSRC grant to explore three key areas that impact human health

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The University of Leicester has been awarded over £1.5 million in order to advance knowledge and understanding in three key areas that impact on health.

The funding has come from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), which leads world-class 21st century bioscience, promoting innovation in the bioeconomy and realising benefits for society within and beyond the UK. BBSRC support around 1600 scientists and 2000 research students in universities and institutes across the UK.

Three groups from the University of Leicester have won awards. They are led by:

· Professor David Lambert, £338,432, Department of Cardiovascular Sciences

· Professor Marco Rinaldo Oggioni £700,532 Department of Genetics

· Dr Shaun Cowley £507,945 Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

The projects cover a wide range of subjects that impact on human health, including sepsis; the spread of infections and cancer amongst other things

Professor Lambert, from the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, and his team have designed a novel 'biosensor' to observe the release of nociceptin from single living immune cells - this has never been done before.

He said: "This is a really exciting project from understanding the basics of release at the single cell level to translation into a disease relevant model; sepsis. Sepsis is a huge problem taking 31,000 lives and costing the UK NHS some £2Billion per year; treatment options are limited. BBSRC funding is critical to understanding the basics of the process that will underpin clinical development."

Professor Oggioni  from the Department of Genetics, is investigating the spread of infection. He said: "This will give us a better understanding of the means by which pathogenic bacteria spread to us either through food or from animals and is expected to have clear benefit in the prevention of infection and will possibly also have impact on antimicrobial drug resistance."

Dr Cowley from the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology said: "My colleague, Prof Schwabe, and I work on a class of enzymes called HDACs (histone deacetylases) which help regulate access to the information stored within our DNA.  Drugs which inhibit HDACs can prevent cancer cells from growing, reduce inflammation and have positive effects on models of Alzheimer's disease.  Despite these promising results, we still don't really understand how they work at a molecular level.  Our project grant from the BBSRC is designed to understand how the cell signals to HDAC enzymes and fine-tunes their activity."

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