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Scottish institutions join Network of Excellence


Scottish scientists are to form part of a European-wide "Network of Excellence" in research into a key area of genetic regulation, which links to an ever-growing list of diseases including certain types of cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.

Research teams led by Professor Angus Lamond in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee, Professor John Brown at the Scottish Crop Research Institute, Professor Jean Beggs at the University of Edinburgh and Dr Javier Caceres at the MRC Human Genetics Unit, Edinburgh, are among 30 laboratories from 11 European countries and Israel and Argentina who will make up the network, aimed at delivering a better understanding of the problem of "alternative splicing".

Alternative splicing is the name for a process by which a single gene can give rise to different proteins and different functions. Defects in the control of alternative splicing frequently cause, or exacerbate, pathological conditions and link to many diseases including various cancers and neurodegenerative conditions.

The Network of Excellence aims to understand the complex regulation of alternative splicing and the consequences, in terms of disease, of any defects or break down in regulation. New treatments to correct defects in splicing are already being pioneered around the world and the new knowledge generated by the Network will ultimately lead to further applications which impact on human health.

The Network will integrate wide-ranging expertise from different organisms. “One of the really exciting aspects of this Network is the bringing together of research, ideas and approaches from different organisms - the four Scottish labs study human, nematode, plant and yeast systems - to address a hugely important area of biology ” said Professor Brown of SCRI.

Professor Beggs added “This Network will facilitate collaborations and the sharing of resources between the different laboratories involved, allowing faster progress to be made and greater challenges to be tackled.”

The 10 million Euro project is being funded by the European Union, and between them the Scottish laboratories can expect to receive at least 800,000 Euros of that central funding.

The co-ordinated approach will allow sharing and exchange of information and technologies. To sustain future research the Network will support young scientists in setting up research labs in alternative splicing and will be active in communicating the importance of alternative splicing to policy makers, the general public and the scientific and medical communities.

Roddy Isles | alfa
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