Posts By: Steph

Huge potential of nanotechnology closer to being unlocked through multi-million pound international project led by the Medical School

Scientists at Swansea University Medical School have just received approval from the European Commission for an international collaborative grant expected to be in excess of €12 million to develop novel cutting-edge tests to prevent the use of animals when assessing safety concerns surrounding nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is a field which could greatly enhance crucial aspects of our lives pending proper investigation into associated risks.

The grant has been awarded as part of the Horizon2020 scheme, the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever, with nearly €80 billion of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020).

Swansea University will lead an international team of scientists including academic, industrial, government and risk assessment partners to work on this major project entitled Physiologically Anchored Tools for Realistic nanOmateriaL hazard aSsessment (PATROLS).  The project involves a total of 26 partners spread across 14 countries through Europe and across the globe including Canada, Japan, Korea and the US.

The project faced competition from scientific groups all over Europe to become the only one selected for funding through a dedicated Horizon2020 challenge under the Industrial Leadership pillar.

Shareen Doak (pictured here) is a Professor of Genotoxicology & Cancer at Swansea University Medical School and is leading the project.  She explained: “Nanotechnology promises significant scientific, economic and societal benefits, but commercialisation and growth are threatened by safety uncertainties.

“Several problems currently exist in the field of nanosafety testing: standard non-animal tests are unreliable for nanomaterials, so there is a greater emphasis on evaluating their safety in animals. However animal tests are also unsuitable as they are expensive, time-consuming, and are associated with substantial moral concerns. Additionally, these tests do not predict the consequences of long term exposure on both human health and the environment.

“PATROLS will address these limitations by providing state-of-the-art 3D culture models of the human lung, gastrointestinal tract and liver.  The project will also deliver advanced testing methods for environmental safety testing and robust computational models that will allow us to more accurately predict human health and environmental safety based on data generated in cell culture, removing the need to test on animals.”

“Exposure under realistic conditions (low concentrations over extended periods of time) will be applied to human cell culture to understand the true risk associated with nanomaterials in consumer products.

PATROLS comprises many of Europe’s leading experts in nanosafety, ecotoxicology, cell biology, systems biology, computational modelling, tissue engineering and material science. This range of expertise will allow PATROLS to develop the next-generation of non-animal nanosafety testing solutions, to protect consumers, workers, patients and our environment, allowing us to enjoying the benefits that nanotechnological developments promise to have on our daily lives.

Commenting on the award, Chief Scientific Officer for Wales, Julie Williams said: “I am delighted that Swansea-based scientists will lead this worldwide initiative to translate nanotechnology into safe applications affecting human health, economic development and public policy. It is vital we exploit cutting-edge science for the good of mankind.”

Dr Kalyan Sarma, from Innovate UK said: “This award is a fantastic win for the PATROLS consortium. It is testament to the quality of the team and the value that they will bring to the nanotechnology industry. Nanosafety is of paramount importance in assuring sustainable development opportunities within the nanotechnology industry so the developments promised through PATROLS are both exciting and will support industrial growth across a broad range of sectors.”

The PATROLS project is scheduled to commence in autumn 2017 and will run for 3.5 years.

The future of Nanotechnology

Investigating the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials is vital as nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications such as in nanomedicine, nanoelectronics, biomaterials energy production, and wide-ranging consumer products, for example:

  • Medicine: Researchers are developing customised nanoparticles the size of molecules that can deliver drugs directly to diseased cells in the body.  When it’s perfected, this method should greatly reduce the damage treatment such as chemotherapy does to a patient’s healthy cells.  The Centre for NanoHealthat Swansea University is currently conducting research in areas including Microbiology and Infection, Neuroscience and Molecular Psychiatry, Immunity and Allergy, Diabetes, and Cell Biology of Cancer and Reproduction.
  • Food: Nanotechnology is having an impact on several aspects of food science, from how food is grown to how it is packaged. Companies are developing nanomaterials that will make a difference not only to how food tastes, but also in food safety, and the health benefits that food delivers.
  • Fuel Cells: Nanotechnology is being used to reduce the cost of catalysts used in fuel cells to produce hydrogen ions from fuel such as methanol and to improve the efficiency of membranes used in fuel cells to separate hydrogen ions from other gases such as oxygen.
  • Solar Cells: Companies have developed nanotech solar cells that can be manufactured at significantly lower cost than conventional solar cells.
  • Fuels: Nanotechnology can address the shortage of fossil fuels such as diesel and gasoline by making the production of fuels from low grade raw materials economical, increasing the mileage of engines, and making the production of fuels from normal raw materials more efficient.

2nd Annual Sêr Cymru Postgraduate Conference 2017

Monday 11th September 2017, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff

The second Sêr Cymru Postgraduate Conference brings together and presents the research of the PhD students within the 3 Sêr Cymru National Research Networks (NRNs). The NRN PhD students are vital to the future of Science and Engineering in Wales –  among them will be future leaders who drive Welsh research forward with major impacts for society and business.

Supported by Welsh Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and currently in the penultimate year of funding, the Networks are generating significant outputs across the breadth of their programmes, building on pockets of World class expertise in Wales and providing a sound base for future, successful endeavours.

The organisers are delighted to welcome 4 external speakers to the conference this year -Vaughan Gething AM, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Welsh Government; David Veryard, Microsoft’s lead in Wales; Dr Helen Swygart, Capability Employment Manager at Qioptiq Ltd and Professor Tiina Roose, Professor of Biological and Environmental Modelling at the University of Southampton.

Vaughan Gething AM, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport, commented:

“It is the collaborative and inspirational approach that Sêr Cymru provides that will help drive forward the next generation of talented researchers”.

The Life Sciences Research Network Wales

 

 


Urdd National Eisteddfod

The Life Sciences Research Network coordinated an active science exhibition at this year’s Urdd National Eisteddfod in Bridgend, from 29th May to 3rd June.

Researchers, PhD and undergraduate students from Cardiff, Aberystwyth and Swansea Universities shared their science with the public of all ages, at the GwyddonLe Science Pavilion on the Eisteddfod field.

Professor Arywn Jones, Cardiff University said,

“The Urdd has announced that close to 90,000 people attended this year, highlighting this event as a major opportunity to showcase science performed at Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea Universities and funded by the Life Science Research Network Wales.”

Highlighted was the super complex human brain, healing damaged kidneys, computer modelling for drug discovery and interactive parasite displays.

Picture10Picture3A Giant Brain Dome proved a popular draw for younger children who bounced inside the giant brain.

Professor Arwyn Jones, Cardiff University said,

This was a great opportunity to raise public awareness of the support the Life Science Research Network Wales is giving to Science in Wales in attempting to improve treatments for conditions such as cancer, dementia, microbial infections and kidney disease”.

Dr Andrea Brancale, Scientific Director, Life Sciences Research Network Wales said,

We were delighted to be attending this year’s Urdd Eisteddfod to showcase a cross-section of some of the excellent research being undertaken in drug discovery across Wales”.


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BioWales 2017

BioWales 2017

The Life Sciences Research Network Wales and the Life Sciences Bridging Fund have team up to sponsor the Innovation Zone at this years BioWales Conference on Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th March.

Come and visit the Innovation Zone in Bar Fresh at BioWales and see our platform technology showcase, book a one 2 one session with our platform holders and check out some research presentations from Principal Investigators funded by the Life Sciences Bridging Fund and the Life Sciences Research Network.  Please view the flyer below to see the full schedule of events in the Innovation Zone.

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Life Sciences Research Network Congress brings together Wales’ finest Drug Discovery Researchers

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The Life Sciences Research Network Wales is part of the Welsh Government’s £50 million Ser Cymru programme aimed at building research capacity within Wales that addresses the Grand Challenges of:

  • Life sciences and health
  • Advanced engineering and materials
  • Low carbon, energy and environment

The Life Science Research Network Wales is based in Cardiff University and led by Professors Chris McGuigan and John Chester. This £15M initiative was supported by a grant of £7.3M from the Ser Cymru programme and HEFCW and aims to discover and develop new drugs in areas of unmet medical and veterinary need.

The Network brings together leading academics from Aberystwyth, Bangor Cardiff, and Swansea Universities and aims to support over 100 new research projects. The Network works closely with a number of industry partners, the NHS and other major funding bodies and has a strong focus on commercialising the outputs of academic research for ultimate patient benefit.

In its first year, the Network has supported a range of activities including PhD students, individual research projects and platform technologies at universities across Wales. Almost 90 projects have been supported in the first 2 years.

 

The Network is hosting its 2nd Annual Drug Discovery Congress on 2nd and 3rd December 2015 and the event will be attended by a number of leading international researchers as well representatives of the private sector such as multi-billion pound Bio-Technology entrepreneur and Chair of the Welsh Life Sciences Fund, Professor Sir Chris Evans.

Professor Mark Drakeford (Minister for Health and Social Services) will also attending and will be awarding prizes for best presentations and posters to PhD students and young researchers.

 

Next Generation of Researchers

The Network is committed to developing the next generation of scientists and has supported 43 PhD students across Wales. These students are working on developing the next generation of drugs to tackle major societal health issues such as:

  • Cancer
  • Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Neurodegenerative diseases

 

Commercial Success

The Network has already had success in commercialising the outcomes of the academic research and is supporting a PhD student to work with a new biotechnology company to develop a technology originally patented by Cardiff University. The technology aims to inhibit the spread of breast cancer and is an early example of the World Class research developed within Wales potentially leading to new therapies. The company is already listed this year on the London Stock Exchange with a valuation of around £100M and hopes to be ready to go into human clinical trials within 12-18 months.

Development of novel treatment for solid tumors

Scientists at Swansea University (Prof Paul Dyson and Dr Claire Morgan) were recently awarded a major award by Cancer Research UK to develop novel therapies for the treatment of prostrate cancer. This £180k award will support collaboration with Cardiff University (Prof Alan Clarke) in developing a new therapy to target any solid tumor, including late stage metastatic tumors. This patented technology delegate’s production and delivery of therapeutic molecules to tumour-targeting bacteria that are otherwise harmless to healthy tissue and has the potential to be developed into a new treatment for a wide range of cancers.

 

Potential Breast Cancer Treatment

Scientists at Cardiff University (Dr Jun Cai) are working on a novel strategy for treatment of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), which is one of the worst, forms of breast cancer for younger age patients (<40-year-old) and currently lack an effective therapy.  Following collaboration between Cardiff University’s Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, scientists have now identified two lead compounds, which have the potential to become new therapeutic drugs.  Further tests are ongoing but initial results look very promising.

 

Prof Chris McGuigan, Director of the Network said: “We are delighted to welcome the Health Minister to our 2nd Annual Congress where will celebrate the early success of the almost 90 drug discovery projects we have supported across Wales. The Network is a vital part of the flourishing life sciences ecosystem in Wales which has arisen from a unique partnership between Government, Academia, NHS and business”


UK Extracellular Vesicles Forum – Call for Posters & Talks

Call for Posters and Short Talks

The call is now open to receive submissions for posters and short talks (~10min) on varied topics related to Extracellular Vesicles. Topics will include vesicles in cancer, the manufacture and trafficking of vesicles, methods for isolation and analysis, vesicles as therapeutic agents and several others.

Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis, so please register soon to ensure a place. Submission deadline is the 1st of November 2015.

Abstracts will be published in the Journal of Extracellular Vesicles, and you can meet some of the JEV Editors at the conference.

We are delighted to announce international plenary speakers will present some of their latest vesicle-related research:-

HomeProf. Mattias Belting, Lund University.
Presenting: Vesicular communication in cancer

HomeDr Guillaume Van Neil, Institut Curie, Paris.
Presenting: How to handle amyloids in a safe manner:
Exosomes from pigment cells light the way.

UKEV FORUM

To register only, please use this online form:
http://form.jotformeu.com/form/51596196252361

To submit an abstract & register, please use this online form:
http://form.jotformeu.com/form/51483840724356

Conference Registration Fees:
Staff £50, Students £25.

This meeting is part-sponsored by a Life Science Research Network Wales Endeavour Award.


Cancer Free Future Event a Great Success

Tenovus Cancer Care joined forces with the Life Sciences Research Network Wales to showcase the very latest advances in the fight against cancer.

Experts from across the UK met at the Life Sciences Hub at Cardiff Bay to discuss the very latest advancements in cancer research to an audience which included PhD students funded by Tenovus Cancer Care, key supporters of the charity and Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething AM.

CPAlCnLWIAA99_aAmong the speakers were Hugh Griffiths, whose work with Professor Chris McGuigan has led to the development of Acelarin, which is helping to control the spread of solid tumours in cancer patients.

Professor McGuigan, Chair of Life Sciences Research Network Wales and the Life Sciences Hub Wales, and inventor of Acelarin, said: “At the National Research Network, we are proud to work with Tenovus in bringing better drugs forward to improve the treatment of cancer in patients across Wales, and beyond,”

Each year Tenovus Cancer Care invests nearly £0.5 million across 20 PhD projects making us one of the largest supporters of early career researchers and scientists in Wales. We are also pleased to announce that starting this October we will be investing a further £900,000 in 10 PhD studentships based at Cardiff, Swansea and Bangor Universities.

This year Tenovus Cancer Care has partnered with the Life Sciences Research Network (LSRN) to jointly support a PhD studentship in cancer drug development.

These studentships span a breadth of cancer research areas, including drug development, immunotherapy, cancer genetics and prostate cancer treatment choices.

Dr Ian Lewis, Director of Research at Tenovus Cancer Care, said: “Wales is at the forefront of some really exciting developments in cancer research. We are really proud to be working with the Life Sciences Research Network to support this PhD studentship, which will help us develop new drugs to combat cancer.”

Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething AM added: “We have made real progress in improving cancer care in Wales – more people than ever now survive cancer, even though more people are being diagnosed.”

“The work of Tenovus is a fantastic example of how the third sector and NHS Wales work together to meet the needs of patients. My hope is such ongoing collaboration can continue to support society’s wider efforts to tackle the burden of cancer on individuals and the health service.”


AMR

Anti Microbial Resistance

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing public health issue that threatens to undermine the treatment of an increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi. Many of the most commonly used antimicrobials are becoming less effective with bacteria, viruses and fungi naturally adapting and becoming increasingly resistant to medicines used to treat the infections they cause.

This is a global problem that the Work Economic Forum and World Health Organisation have both identified as a major public health problem.

The issue has also been raised by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer and resulted in the Department of Health releasing a Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy (2013-18).

Academics from across Wales have a long track record of research into antimicrobial resistance and are working together to address key challenges in the following areas:

Alternative Approaches to Treating Bacterial Infection
Development of Novel Therapeutics
Development of Diagnostic Devices.
The consortium includes members from the following Welsh universities:

Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea.

If you are interested in joining the forum or finding out more, please email us nrn@cardiff.ac.uk


Record Number of Applications Received

Our call has now closed and we have received and acknowledged a record number of applications – 83 in total! Thank you for applying.

For information, the board will be meeting on 29th and 30th April to discuss applications and award successful ones.

If you have any queries in the mean time, please contact us nrn@cardiff.ac.uk

 


Life Sciences Bridging Fund Scientific Advisory Board: Appointment of Chair and Members

The new £3m life sciences bridging fund, established in March 2015, will create commercial opportunities from Welsh life sciences research projects, stimulating further growth in the sector. The fund will be managed by the Life Sciences Hub Wales and will support up to 25 research projects over 3 years.
The Scientific Advisory Board will be responsible for the administration, governance, management and delivery of the fund and will report to the Life Sciences Hub Board who will be responsible for providing oversight of the fund.

Welsh Government, on behalf of the Life Sciences Hub Wales, is seeking applicants with an interest in, knowledge and experience of the life sciences sector, in particular research and commercialisation; technology transfer, academia and commercial exploitation of life sciences research.

Background to the Fund:
http://gov.wales/newsroom/businessandeconomy/2015/9877571/?status=closed&lang=en

Closing date: 15 April 2015

Further details and application information can be found at: http://www.lifescienceshubwales.com/news/life-sciences-bridging-fund-scientific-advisory-board-appointment-of-members/


Life Sciences Research Network Congress brings together Wales’ finest Drug Discovery Researchers

The Life Sciences Research Network Wales is part of the Welsh Government’s £50 million Ser Cymru programme aimed at building research capacity within Wales.

As part of this initiative, the Welsh Government established three research Networks addressing the Grand Challenges of:

  • Life sciences and health
  • Advanced engineering and materials
  • Low carbon, energy and environment

The Life Science Research Network Wales is based in Cardiff University and led by Professors Chris McGuigan and Malcolm Mason. This £15M initiative was supported by a grant of £7.3M from the Ser Cymru programme and HEFCW and aims to discover and develop new drugs in areas of unmet medical need.

 

The Network brings together leading academics from Aberystwyth, Bangor Cardiff, and Swansea Universities and aims to support over 100 new research projects. The Network works closely with a number of industry partners, the NHS and other major funding bodies and has a strong focus on commercialising the outputs of academic research for ultimate patient benefit.

 

In its first year, the Network has supported a range of activities including PhD students, individual research projects and platform technologies at universities across Wales. This Scientific Congress is an opportunity for students and leading academics from across Wales to highlight their research and discuss the challenges faced in developing the next generation of therapeutics.

 

The event will also be attended by a number of leading international researchers as well representatives of the private sector such as multi-billion pound Bio-Technology entrepreneur and Chair of the Welsh Life Sciences Fund, Professor Sir Chris Evans.

 

Mrs Edwina Hart OBE (Minister for Economy, Science and Transport) and Professor Mark Drakeford (Minister for Health and Social Services) are also attending and will be awarding prizes for best presentations and posters to PhD students and young researchers.  The event will also include a presentation by Professor Julie Williams, the Welsh Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, on the Ser Cymru vision.

 

Although early days, the Network has already had considerable success of commercialising the outcomes of the academic research and is supporting a PhD student to work with a new biotechnology company to develop a technology originally patented by Cardiff University. The technology aims to inhibit the spread of breast cancer and is an early example of the World Class research developed within Wales potentially leading to new therapies. The company is already listed this year on the London Stock Exchange and hopes to be ready to go into human clinical trials within 12-18 months. Other projects have been started in infectious diseases and dementure. Prof McGuigan, the Network director said: “the interest shown in the Network across Wales has been remarkable, with over 220 new drug discovery projects being submitted to us for review in our first year – and we have supported over 50 of them. This Network is set to make a real difference to the health and wealth of Wales.”


Advance Notice of Future Studentship Call

The Life Sciences Research Network Wales would like to give advance notice of a studentship call opening soon!

Call opens – January 2015

Call closes – March 2015

Decisions and Awards – April 2015

Studentships Start – October 2015

We will post further details about this call when it opens in January 2015