Evolutionary transcriptomics implicates new genes and pathways in human pregnancy and adverse pregnancy outcomes
Dr Joanne Muter and Professor Jan Brosens collaborated with researchers in Chicago and Buffalo, USA, in a study that used comparative transcriptomics to reconstruct the evolutionary history of gene expression in the pregnant endometrium. The study identified hundreds of genes that were gained or lost in the womb lining of primate and human lineages. Genes that evolved to be expressed at the maternal-fetal interface in the human lineage were enriched for immune functions and diseases, such as preterm birth and pre-eclampsia. Read the paper here
We're delighted to announce that Dr Rob Howes, the Director of the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory, has been appointed as an honorary Professor at WMS.
We're pleased to report that 150 of our MB ChB students have already received their Covid19 booster this week, in a dedicated vaccination clinic at Gibbet Hill.
Local residents of Coventry and Warwickshire are invited to equip themselves with the skills to save a life thanks to Warwick Medical School students who are holding a public CPR awareness event to mark #RestartAHeart day on Saturday 16 October.
PhD Congratulations to Hilda Kabambe
Hilda Kabambe has been awarded a PhD in Health Sciences for their PhD on ‘Female sex workers' experiences with access to health care services in Malawi’. Hilda was supervised by Sophie Staniszewska and Kate Seers in the Division of Health Sciences.
Using Sugars to Detect COVID
The GibsonGroup, working with UHCW and Iceni Diagnostics have shown that glycans (sugars) can be used in place of antibodies to detect SARS-COV-2. Last year the team identified that SARS-COV-2 spike protein could bind certain glycans, and in this work they incorporate the glycan onto gold nanoparticles to make a ‘flow through’ (similar to lateral flow) device. The methods allowed detection of infection and was shown to retain binding to several variants of concern. The underpinning principle can now be applied to a range of infections or biosensing challenges. The work was large collaboration with Chemistry, WMS (including the Straube-Group from our division), Physics, Industry and the hospital.
Read the paper - Glycan-Based Flow-Through Device for the Detection of SARS-COV-2
Scaling of internal organs during Drosophila embryonic development
Within species, there can be very large differences in animal size. Perhaps the most striking example is in domestic dogs; e.g. compare a Chihuahua with an English Mastiff. Despite being genetically very similar, their internal organs are correctly positioned and sized for their particularly body size, i.e. the organ size scales with the organism size. How does such scaling occur? There has been extensive analysis of scaling of external organs, such as insect wings, due to their accessibility for imaging. However, how internal organs scale and adjust for changes in system size remains poorly understood. In recent work, the Saunders lab utilised a genetic trick to generate smaller Drosophila embryos that could be live imaged. From live imaging of heart, hindgut and nervous system formation, they have provided the first quantitative dynamic analysis of internal organ scaling during development. Interestingly, the initial heart vessel scales precisely with embryo size (see figure). However, the developing nervous system appears to have a lower bound on its size, regardless of how reduced in size the embryo is. These results suggest that organs adapt to changes in embryo size through different mechanisms. Hopefully further work, including in vertebrate systems, will uncover the genetic and biophysical mechanisms driving internal organ scaling.
How to Design Protein-Selective Glycomaterials?
Glycans (sugars) dictate a huge range of biological recognition processes, which can be replicated by presenting the sugars onto polymers (or other materials). However, whilst these almost always have high affinity, these materials are non-selective and can bind a wide range of targets, limiting their use. In a Perspective article, Dr Sarah-Jane Richards and Prof. Matthew Gibson discuss synthetic tools to enable selectivity to be engineered into glycomaterials, to help translate them into applications including biosensing.
Read the article now here
Congratulations to PhD student Liz Corrigan, supervised by Deborah Biggerstaff, Annie Young and Mark Sujan, who has been awarded an Empire Medal. The ceremony was held at Birmingham University.
Read more about Liz's experience below:
I was awarded the British Empire Medal for two things, firstly the work I did as Staff Covid Swabbing Hub Lead with the Wolverhampton Quality Team, which is part of Black Country and West Birmingham CCG. This involved being day to day operational lead, and also taking a strategic lead on planning and the development of standard operating procedures and policies for staff swabbing. Secondly it was for leading on a Strategy and Retention Plan for General Practice Nursing across the CCG footprint, which was recognised by NHS England and Improvement.
Both of these projects were 100% team effort and couldn't have been achieved without the support of my clinical and non-clinical colleagues (from the CCG, general practice, acute trust and local authority) who worked on everything from policy development and co-design, to swabbing, security and marshaling, to booking patients in, chasing and recording results, to training, organising estate and the supply of equipment and PPE. I'm proud to share the award with them.
We unfortunately didn't win the HSJ Patient Safety Team of the year award but were shortlisted for the work we did around staff and care home swabbing, improving infection prevention procedures with the aim of reducing harm and safeguarding patients.
The Universities of Warwick, Birmingham and Keele have formed a consortium to become part of an NIHR-funded body working to improve public health through research.
Three medical students from The University of Warwick selected to join the Healthcare Leadership Academy as Scholars
Warwick Medical School students have been selected to join the Healthcare Leadership Academy (HLA) Scholars programme - a prestigious scholarship set up to develop and nurture healthcare leaders of the future.
A new drug to lower cholesterol which was appraised by Warwick Evidence will be made available to hundreds of thousands of NHS patients.
Bioluminescent imaging in induced mouse models of endometriosis reveals differences in four model variations
Our understanding of the etiology and pathophysiology of endometriosis remains limited. Disease modelling in the field is problematic as many versions of induced mouse models of endometriosis exist. We integrated bioluminescent imaging of ‘lesions’ generated using luciferase-expressing donor mice. We compared longitudinal bioluminescence and histology of lesions, sensory behavior of mice with induced endometriosis and the impact of the GnRH antagonist Cetrorelix on lesion regression and sensory behavior. Four models of endometriosis were tested. We found that the nature of the donor uterine material was a key determinant of how chronic the lesions were as well as their cellular composition. The severity of pain-like behavior also varied across models. Whilst Cetrorelix significantly reduced lesion bioluminescence in all models, it had varying impacts on pain-like behavior. Collectively, our results demonstrate key differences in the progression of the ‘disease’ across different mouse models of endometriosis. We propose that validation and testing in multiple models, each of which may be representative of the different subtypes / heterogeneity observed in women should become a standard approach to discovery science in the field of endometriosis. Read the paper here
Dual pH-Responsive Macrophage-Targeted Isoniazid Glycoparticles for Intracellular Tuberculosis Therapy
With the support of the Wellcome-Translational Partnership, the teams of Dr Meera Unnikrishnan and Professor Sebastien Perrier have developed a new family of nanoparticles for the treatment of TB infection which address the main shortfall of current therapies, poor penetration to mycobacterium containing niches such as macrophages.
The team has designed mannose-decorated nanoparticles loaded with a well-established TB drug, which can degrade and deliver their payload at lysosomal pH. Fluorescence uptake studies showed preferential endocytosis of mannosylated particles via sugar-lectin interactions, and the particles were also shown to be effective at killing intracellular M. bovis BCG bacteria in THP-1 macrophages. Taken together these results show that in vitro, such macrophage-targeted particles increase intracellular isoniazid concentration, showing an increased antimicrobial activity against intracellular mycobacteria. Read the paper here
A protein that causes a cell’s skeleton to bend, allowing it to twist the cell into different shapes, could be key to how cells divide according to WMS scientists.
RECOVERY-RS trial finds continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) reduces need for invasive ventilation in hospitalised COVID-19 patients
The Respiratory Strategies in COVID-19; CPAP, High-flow, and Standard Care (RECOVERY-RS) trial has demonstrated that treating hospitalised COVID-19 patients who have acute respiratory failure with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) reduces the need for invasive mechanical ventilation.
Calponin-homology domain mediated bending of membrane associated actin filaments
This paper was the result of a collaboration between Saravanan Palani (now at IISC Bangalore), Darius Köster and Mohan Balasubramanian. Here we show that the extended CH domain of IQGAP proteins such as Rng2 or IQGAP1 can bend usually straight actin filaments into tight rings when tethered to a lipid membrane. That observation was quite unexpected as no other protein is known to do this! It was a control experiment that allowed us to make this fascinating observation… read more here
NanoSyrinx raises £6.2m
NanoSyrinx, a spin-out from the Waterfield Lab at Warwick Medical School founded by Dr Joe Healey and Dr Nick Waterfield, announced on Monday that it had successfully raised a further £6.2M in seed financing. This builds on an initial fundraising in early 2020, and the company will use the funds to continue developing its platform – a novel biologic drug delivery system utilising genetically encoded “nanosyringes” – toward pre-clinical proof of concept over the next two years.
Further details here
A protein involved in making cells move offers a clue to how certain types of cancer metastasize and develop into secondary tumours, according to new research from WMS.
Our 2021 Virtual Graduation Ceremony took place on 9 July, celebrating the fantastic achievements of our MB ChB students. During the event we awarded prizes to those who have excelled during their degree, both academically and by representing the Warwick Doctor values.
As media report that the UK is currently experiencing a heatwave, Dr Raquel Nunes, senior research fellow at Warwick Medical School, comments that efforts to support vulnerable people during extreme heat should focus on those who lack independence or have pre-existing health issues.
Dr Lucy Hammond, Principle Fellow of Advance HE
Congratulations to Dr Lucy Hammond, who has recently achieved recognition as a Principal Fellow of Advance HE. Principal Fellowships are awarded to highly experienced and/or senior staff with wide-ranging academic or academic-related strategic leadership responsibilities in connection with key aspects of teaching and supporting learning.
We’re delighted that WMS has received the 2021 ASPIRE-to-Excellence award for Student Engagement. ASPIRE awards recognise medical, dental and veterinary schools internationally for their excellence in education.
WMS is to receive a share of new national investment in doctoral training, supporting postgraduate students to engage in interdisciplinary research to help understand, diagnose and intervene in human disease.
World-leading study begins into robotic surgery for knee replacement with major £1.6 million funding grant
A major national study will pitch human skill against machine precision as it compares the benefits of knee replacement surgery performed using a robot to a surgeon using traditional methods.