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
Changing the Energy Landscape: Affordable Electricity for All
20.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE
Emmy Noether junior research group investigates new magnetic structures for spintronics applications
11.10.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences