Research Highlights

Harmonised Zika virus research protocols published

Harmonised Zika virus research protocols published

Posted 03/11/2016

Six harmonised protocols to capture Zika-related data to help public health professionals, clinicians and clinical researchers to gain a better understanding of the disease has been published on the WHO website. A number of partners - under the leadership of Institut Pasteur and WHO, including ISARIC and CONSISE have contributed to the development of these protocols to address key public health concerns associated with the Zika virus outbreak. The Working Group on ZIKV Harmonized Research, which included Dr Gail Carson and Professor Peter Horby from the Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, published a commentary on the project in the Lancet Global Health yesterday.

Birth attendant training course may be global model for safer birth care in poor communities

Birth attendant training course may be global model for safer birth care in poor communities

Posted 17/10/2016

Training local Karen and Burman women as skilled birth attendants in refugee settings resulted in no adverse perinatal outcomes and many positive outcomes such as a drop in stillbirths and infant deaths and more babies being born in clinics rather than at home, says a new study, led by Professor Rose McGready and published in PLOS ONE.

TDI technology used to identify oldest proteins to date

TDI technology used to identify oldest proteins to date

Posted 04/10/2016

Two TDI researchers (Dr Roman Fischer and Prof Benedikt Kessler) have helped to detect the oldest proteins to date by using highly sensitive mass spectrometers to detect co-crystallised proteins in 3.5 million year old ostrich egg shells. The specific crystalline environment in the analysed eggshells from Tanzania’s archaeological paradise Laetoli (famous for the oldest bipedal hominin footprints) preserved the protein struthiocalcin through millions of years.

International scientists call for a rethink on industrial and academic drug discovery

International scientists call for a rethink on industrial and academic drug discovery

Posted 16/09/2016

A group of prominent scientists, including Daniel Ebner from the TDI,  shared their opinion in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery about ineffective academic and industrial drug discovery investments and funding structures. Parallel competitive research and development funding restricted to traditional drug discovery operating models is suggested as one major contributing factor to the exponential increase in the cost of new medicines.

Multiple lifestyle factors modify the effect of the common genetic variants with the largest effect on obesity

Multiple lifestyle factors modify the effect of the common genetic variants with the largest effect on obesity

Posted 13/09/2016

There has been considerable interest about the extent to which genetic factors interact with environmental and lifestyle factors in human traits.  Alex Young and colleagues in Peter Donnelly’s group at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics have used the latest UK Biobank data to discover novel interactions between genetic variants at the FTO locus and lifestyle factors, including sleep duration and alcohol consumption.

ASPP2 linked to rare genetic disorder

ASPP2 linked to rare genetic disorder

Posted 15/08/2016

A study led by Professor Xin Lu has linked the gene for ASPP2, a regulator of p53, to a rare genetic disorder - 1q41q42 microdeletion syndrome, characterised by dysmorphic features, intellectual disability and brain morphological abnormalities.

Better treatment for skin cancers

Better treatment for skin cancers

Posted 02/08/2016

Scientists from the UK and USA have used the intense X-rays generated at Diamond Light Source to gain important insights into how target molecules in skin cancer treatment can become resistant to drugs designed to fight the cancer, leading to ineffective treatment. “We are extremely excited by our results because the Smoothened molecule is a very unusual protein and it was technically very challenging to determine its crystal structure", explains Prof Christian Siebold.

The power of data mining in diagnosis of childhood pneumonia

The power of data mining in diagnosis of childhood pneumonia

Posted 29/07/2016

Led by Professor Maarten De Vos and Dr Climent Casals-Pascual, scientists from the WTCHG and the Institute of Biomedical Engineering have used machine learning to diagnose childhood pneumonia. Their proposed solution involves smart algorithms that fully automate the interpretation of medical data which can be captured through affordable hardware.

How to tackle toxic protein aggregates in Parkinson’s disease

How to tackle toxic protein aggregates in Parkinson’s disease

Posted 26/07/2016

In Parkinson’s disease, misfolded proteins such as α-synuclein accumulate in neuronal inclusions termed Lewy bodies. George Tofaris’s team from the University of Oxford Clinical Neuroscience Department and Benedikt Kessler from the TDI investigated the role of α-synuclein handling and the death of neurons that represents a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease.

Rare mutations in bowel cancer may identify patients with a better prognosis

Rare mutations in bowel cancer may identify patients with a better prognosis

Posted 21/07/2016

An international collaboration between the University of Oxford and other European institutions has uncovered a correlation between a rare mutation in bowel cancers and a better prognosis, raising the possibility that patients with such tumours may not require chemotherapy after surgery. Dr David Church was joint senior author of the study.