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
The quest for the oldest ice on Earth
14.11.2016 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Empa Innovation Award for new flame retardant
09.11.2016 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy