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
Extensive Funding for Research on Chromatin, Adrenal Gland, and Cancer Therapy
28.06.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Otto Hahn Medal for Jaime Agudo-Canalejo
21.06.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kolloid- und Grenzflächenforschung
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
26.07.2017 | Life Sciences
26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences