All cells that make up the tissues of the body – such as skin, liver, brain and blood – are surrounded by a layer of sugars that coat the cells.
These sugars help the cells to know what type of cell they are and to respond to the other cells which surround them and the chemical messages that pass between cells.
Now Dr Catherine Merry from The School of Materials has been awarded a prestigious New Investigator Research Grant by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to investigate how different cells make different sugar types and to test out theories on how sugars can influence cell behaviour.
Dr Merry, who is leading the research, said: “At present, the way in which cells make these sugars is not well understood. From the little we do know, we believe isolated fragments of these sugars could be used to instruct cells to behave in particular ways.
“We also think we might be able to force cells to make one particular type of sugar and not another, thereby influencing the way in which that cell grows and interacts with other cells.
“This work is important in helping us understand how the sugars made by the cells change during this process.
“We also believe our research might suggest how sugars can be used to help embryonic stem cells grow in the lab – or how they can be instructed to become cell types which could be of use in human therapies to treat problems with nerve, heart muscle or blood cells.
“Although the prospect of creating cells from embryonic stem cells for use in humans is still a considerable time away, research such as ours helps move towards this goal.”
Dr Merry’s research will take place over three years in newly refurbished high-tech laboratories in the Materials Science Centre at the University.
A recent £300,000 upgrade to five laboratories has led to a new biomaterials and tissue engineering research facility being established – and has helped transform what was a very small interest in The School of Materials into a major focus of future work.
The upgrade, funded by the Royal Society Wolfson Foundation, is paving the way for cutting-edge research in the fields of molecular biology, stem cell culture and nanofabrication,
A new confocal microscope that produces high-resolution 3D optical images has also been installed thanks to £250,000 funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
The new labs in the Materials Science Centre form part of the UK Centre for Tissue Regeneration, which was established in 2006 with a £1.5 million grant from the Northwest Regional Development Agency and involves researchers from across the university.
Alex Waddington | alfa
Fraunhofer HHI receives AIS Technology Innovation Award 2018 for 3D Human Body Reconstruction
17.01.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI
Inspired by nature - scalable chemical factory due to photomicroreactors
11.01.2018 | DECHEMA Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e.V.
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy