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Polymeric Bottlebrushes which can nucleate ice

The GibsonGroup have a large interest in mimicking the function of ice binding proteins (IBPs) using polymers, which have huge biotechnological, biomedical and industrial potential. The team have previously made progress in mimicking ‘antifreeze’ proteins, but the search for a polymer which can nucleate ice has been elusive. Ice nucleating proteins (INPs) are very large, and truncated versions are far less active, and the native proteins are immobilised in membranes making their study challenging. In this latest work, the team report (what they believe) is the first polymeric ice nucleator. To achieve this they took an ice binding polymer and used synthetic polymer chemistry to make a ‘brush shaped’ polymer to introduce rigidity and very high molecular weight (100’s of kDAs). This new tool is the first synthetically accessible ‘organic’ probe for ice nucleation.
Read the paper hereLink opens in a new window.

Fri 02 Dec 2022, 15:49 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

Appointment of a New Dean to Warwick Medical School

We are delighted to announce that Professor Gavin Perkins has been appointed as Dean of Medicine for Warwick Medical School. He will commence his post from 1 August 2023. He will succeed Professor Sudhesh Kumar OBE who will step down after over eight years serving the WMS community as Dean and many more years than that as a senior leader within the School.

Mon 21 Nov 2022, 11:58 | Tags: news

Science Award success for WMS Women of the Future

Congratulations to Dr Cerys Currie, winner of the Science Category in the Women of the Future Awards. She received her award at a ceremony in London on Wednesday 9 November. Two members of Warwick Medical School were shortlisted this year. Alongside Cerys, Postdoctoral Research Fellow and final year medical student Ramat Ayoola, was nominated in the Community Spirit category.

Fri 11 Nov 2022, 14:09 | Tags: HealthSciences BMS Research

Academic Primary Care contribution to UK Commission on Bereavement Report

A summary reportLink opens in a new window from the UK Commission on Bereavement (UKCB)Link opens in a new window was released earlier this week. Researchers in the UAPC were awarded a small grant from Marie Curie to provide a secondary analysis of the qualitative survey responses to contribute the commission report findings and recommendations.

The UKCB was set up to investigate and better understand the experiences of bereaved people and families, and how support and availability of support can be improved for them. This has become necessary due to the increase in number of people bereaved during the pandemic and the subsequent increased demand for bereavement support services. The UKCB was led by researchers and policy managers at Marie Curie but involved multiple charities, external researchers, and a PPIE advisory group with lived experience.

The report focuses on key challenges for both adults and children when experiencing a bereavement including practical death administration, communication with family and friends, and access to formal bereavement services. The report includes key recommendations for changes in policy and practice about how support for bereaved people could be improved, both now and in the long term.

Wed 12 Oct 2022, 14:58 | Tags: HealthSciences HS_MHWB HS_APC

Association between fetal abdominal growth trajectories

Association between fetal abdominal growth trajectories, maternal metabolite signatures early in pregnancy, and childhood growth and adiposity: prospective observational multinational INTERBIO-21st fetal study

Tue 20 Sep 2022, 13:12 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

Histone singles club

New study from the Bowman Lab published in eLife defines a novel nuclear translocation pathway involving the specific import receptor Importin-5 and the histone chaperone NASP that specialise in ferrying monomeric histones to the nucleus.

Read the paper hereLink opens in a new window.

Mon 12 Sep 2022, 10:32 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

GibsonGroup explore the glycoprotein corona on nanoparticles

Nanoparticles have found widespread use in diagnostics and have been suggested for e.g. drug delivery. Chemists can now fine tune the nanoparticle surface to e.g target cell types. However, what a cell 'sees' is not what is made by the chemists, but rather a complex mixture of proteins which ‘foul’ the surface, recruited from the blood, termed the protein corona. There has been extensive research into the proteins which make up the corona, but the glycans on these proteins have received less attention. This is a major problem, as > 50 % of our proteome is glycosylated, and hence investigating a nanoparticle’s protein corona, without considering the glycans, does not give an accurate picture.

In our latest work, we investigate the impact of the glycoprotein corona on how polymer-coated nanoparticles bind lectins. We show that serum proteins bring significant sialic acids to the particle surface. The impact of this, is that the particles can bind additional lectins (which were not intended) as well as those which are intended. Finally, we show that 'blocking' the surface does reduce the amount of protein, but sufficient glycans remain to cause off-target binding. These results will help guide the next generation of nanoparticle sensing and delivery agents.
Read the paper hereLink opens in a new window.

Mon 12 Sep 2022, 10:30 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

New paper in small: size matters in a stiffness dependent manner

The use of nanoparticles as drug delivery vehicles is well established. Numerous studies have investigated the impact of size, shape, charge, and surface functionality of nanoparticles on mammalian cellular uptake. Rigidity, however, has been studied to a far lesser extent, and its effects are still unclear. Here, in a collaboration between the Chemistry and BMS, this is systematically explored.

Three different polymeric core rigidities were tested: hard, medium and soft using two 50 and 100 nm diameter particles. Cellular uptake studies indicated that 100nm softer particles are taken up faster and 3-fold more into mammalian cells compared to harder nanoparticles, probably via major differences in the cellular uptake pathways. However, 50 nm derivatives did not show any appreciable differences in uptake efficiency suggesting that rigidity as a parameter for nanomaterials in the biological regime might be size dependent.

Read the paper here.

Fri 02 Sep 2022, 08:13 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

Chromosome rearrangement in endometrial stromal cells leads to a fusion protein, JAZF1-SUZ12, that causes low-grade sarcomas

In a recent study published in Cell Reports, teams from University College London and Warwick Medical School describe how protein fusion of two epigenetic modulators, JAZF1 and SUZ12, causes oncogenesis in human endometrial stromal cells by disrupting the composition of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), resulting in aberrant histone modification, gene expression and cell differentiation (decidualization). The results reveal how dysregulation of PRC2 drives the emergence of low-grade endometrial stromal sarcomas in the womb, which provide opportunities to improve the treatment of this disease.

Read the paper here.

Tue 30 Aug 2022, 12:18 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

GibsonGroup and Cryologyx Demonstrate ‘Assay-Ready’ Cells.

Much cell biology, biomaterials and associated research is conducted on cells attached to tissue culture plastic in multiwell plates - such as high throughput drug discovery and toxicity, to viral plaque assays. However, there is a disconnect that the cells are stored frozen in suspension, not in the format ‘ready to use’. This is because conventional cryoprotectants do not protect the cells when in monolayer format. The GibsonGroup, and UoW Spin-Out Cryologyx have worked together to solve this problem using macromolecular cryoprotectants. In this later paper, the team demonstrate reproducilble and robust recovery of cell monolayers out of the freezer. This is shown for common cell lines, including HepG2 and Caco-2, commonly used in drug screening. This is a revolutionary technology as it shows researchers could stop wasting time culturing cells, and just order them, remove from freezer and within 24 hours begin data collection with no of the traditional culturing steps. Cryologyx are deploying these findings to commercialise assay ready cells, and trial plates are available!

Read the paper here.

Tue 30 Aug 2022, 12:15 | Tags: BMS

Technique for ready-to-use cells in research demonstrated by University of Warwick and Cryologyx

A new technique for freezing cells for use in biomedical research, based on polymer technology developed at the University of Warwick, has been validated in study, paving the way for faster results for scientists in their research.

Fri 19 Aug 2022, 09:03 | Tags: news BMS

Stitched Up: Stories of Life and Death by a Prison Doctor – WMS Alumnus Shahed Yousaf

We recently interviewed Dr Shahed Yousaf, Warwick Medical School alumnus who graduated in 2006. He lives in Birmingham and has been a GP for ten years working with the homeless and with prisoners. He is also an accomplished writer, starting off his writing career with fiction, he has now published ‘Stitched Up’ which follows his career in medicine working with patients on the edge of society.

Tue 16 Aug 2022, 08:59 | Tags: news

Evidence for a HURP/EB free mixed-nucleotide zone in kinetochore-microtubules

All cells must accurately separate their chromosomes during mitosis to avoid errors that are associated with cancer development, reproductive failure and even ageing. This feat is accomplished by the mitotic spindle – this microtubule-based machine has a bipolar geometry and contains hundreds of protein components. A subset of microtubules form bundles that make contact with kinetochores on the chromosome (these are called K-fibres). The growth and shrinkage of these microtubules, through addition and loss of tubulin, is coupled to the hydrolysis of GTP: this powers chromosome movement. Previous work identified a protein called HURP (hepatoma up-regulated protein) that forms distinctive stripes on each half spindle (see schematic). Here, through collaboration with University of Geneva, we identified a new region within the mitotic spindle, termed “HURP-gap”. This HURP free region of the K-fibre is located between the stripe and the kinetochore.

Fri 12 Aug 2022, 15:27 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

Controlling signalling pathways with light

Discovery: How do organs reach a specific size during development? The Hippo/YAP pathway has been identified as a critical regulator of organ size control. It also plays an important role in homeostasis and cancer progression, in part due to its mechanosensitive response. Here, the Saunders lab have developed an optogenetic version of YAP (optoYAP) that enables its localisation to the nucleus to be tightly controlled in both space and time. This enables targeted perturbation of the pathway, with potential applications to wound healing and regeneration.
Read the paper hereLink opens in a new window.

Fri 12 Aug 2022, 15:21 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

Understanding polysulphoxides as macromolecular cryoprotectants

The GibsonGroup are developing macromolecular (polymer) cryoprotectants to enable next-generation cell based therapies, and to simplify cell-based assays. A key feature identified in the teams most potent materials is a mixture of cationic/anionic charges on the side chain, but the exact mechanism of action is under investigation. In this latest work the team explored sulphoxide (‘DMSO like’) side chains, which are actually highly polarised with S+-O- character. The team also explore N-oxide polymers which have similar charged character. Using a range of phyical and biochemical assays the team investigated if these motifs could aid in cryopreservation.
Read the paper hereLink opens in a new window.

Fri 12 Aug 2022, 15:19 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

The Data Science and AI Showcase: SAVE THE DATE 12th September 2022 - DS&AI Showcase

The Data Science and Artificial Intelligence showcase will be held at Warwick this year and is open to anyone in the research teams and wider audiences active in Data Science and AI.
The two keynote speakers are directly aligned to Women in STEM, with Anne-Maire Imafidon almost confirmed as the closing plenary speaker.

There will also be a poster exhibition, and full details on how to enter can be found with this link Poster Competition - submissions just need to be a high-res PDF, all printing costs are covered and there are a few prizes up for grabs.
Register here and join us to debate  

Thu 11 Aug 2022, 11:47 | Tags: HealthSciences HS_PET HS_MHWB HS_STATS HS_Ethics

The influence of extrachromosomal elements in the anthrax "cross-over" strain Bacillus cereus G9241

We have now published back to back two papers on the so called anthrax “cross over strain Bacillus cereus G9241. The first paper (From cereus to anthrax and back again: The role of the PlcR regulator in the “cross-over” strain Bacillus cereus G9241) has already been highlighted. This current paper is titled, “The influence of extrachromosomal elements in the anthrax “cross-over” strain Bacillus cereus G9241.”

The work investigates the contribution of anthrax-like plasmids and a lysogenic phagemid to the pathogenic potential of the normally relatively harmless Bacillus cereus. We investigated the role of temperature and carriage of the pBCXO1 plasmid (which is homologous to the pXO1 anthrax toxin plasmid) in regulation of chromosomal genes, heavily affecting metabolism. In addition we have shown that sporulation of G9241 is very rapid at 37’C, which is characteristic of B. anthracis but unlike the ancestral B. cereus strains. Finally we isolated phagemid virions which are produced at 37’C and visualised them with electron microscopy.

Read the paper here.

Wed 03 Aug 2022, 14:55 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

From cereus to anthrax and back again: The role of the PlcR regulator in the “cross-over” strain Bacillus cereus G9241

In our recent paper “From cereus to anthrax and back again: The role of the PlcR regulator in the “cross-over” strain Bacillus cereus G9241” we have investigated how a normally low risk Bacillus cereus strain has evolved to mimic Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of the highly feared lethal anthrax infection. The B. cereus G9241 strain is one of several relatively recent isolates that are termed “anthrax cross over strains” that intriguingly seem to preferentially infect metal workers in the USA (welders / millers). These strains are of particular concern as, unlike B. anthracis proper, they can switch between a form that can survive and replicate in the environment using invertebrate hosts and the more lethal mammalian infective anthrax like form. B. anthracis must pass from mammalian host to mammalian host as a spore form thus somewhat limiting its spread. This is due to a loss of function mutation in a key regulator protein named PlcR, which in all other B. cereus sensu lato group strains allows for survival outside of a mammalian host. Our work has identified the specific mechanism by which G9241 can switch on and off the PlcR regulation endowing it with a “Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde” like life cycle. This work was a culmination of a Marie Curie fellow, 3 PhD students and one postdoc and was supported by MoD Porton Down DSTL funding and advice, for which we are very grateful.

Read the paper here.

Wed 03 Aug 2022, 14:52 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

Congratulations Class of 2022!

Our 2022 summer graduation took place on 21 July, celebrating the fantastic achievements of our MB ChB, Master's and PhD students.

Mon 01 Aug 2022, 16:50 | Tags: news

Two MB ChB graduates awarded Outstanding Student Contribution Awards

We’re delighted to announce that two of our 2022 MB ChB graduates, Gabriela Barzyk and Charlotte Simms, have been awarded Outstanding Student Contribution Awards from the University of Warwick.

Mon 01 Aug 2022, 11:08 | Tags: news

Fatal COVID-19 outcomes are associated with an antibody response targeting epitopes shared with endemic coronaviruses

One of the key questions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic is how prior immunity to related endemic coronaviruses affects the SARS-CoV-2 immune response. In this study, we provide evidence of immunological imprinting in individuals with fatal outcomes from COVID-19, suggesting an antibody profile consistent with an original antigenic sin type-response. Read the paper hereLink opens in a new window.

Mon 01 Aug 2022, 10:45 | Tags: news BMS BMS_newpub

All hail the mighty MitoPits!

Cansu Küey’s PhD work was published this week in eLife. Together with Méghane, Gabrielle and Miguel, she showed that clathrin-coated pits can be made to form on intracellular membranes. This phenomenon allowed us to redefine two key concepts in clathrin-coated vesicle formation. First, a scission molecule is not needed to pinch off vesicles inside the cell. Second, that most of the other proteins found in regular clathrin coats are not essential for vesicle formation.

Fri 29 Jul 2022, 15:12 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

Robot hip surgeons: new trial to test performance against humans

Robots will have their surgical skills put to the test as researchers from Warwick Medical School trial their use in hip replacement surgery for the first time.

Mon 18 Jul 2022, 13:12 | Tags: news WCTU

Professor Harbinder Sandhu highly commended in Asian Women of Achievement Awards

Many congratulations to Harbinder Sandhu, Professor of Health Psychology, who has been highly commended at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards UK 2022.

Sun 17 Jul 2022, 16:22 | Tags: news WCTU

Congratulations - PhD awarded to Tommer Spence & Kirstie Shearman

Tommer Spence has been awarded a PhD in Health Sciences for their PhD on ‘The Perceptions and Experiences of Using Internet-Based Testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections’. Tommer was supervised by Frances Griffiths in the Division of Health Sciences and Jonathan Ross.

Kirstie Shearman has been awarded a PhD in Health Sciences for her PhD on ‘Improving Information for Research Participation’. Kirstie was supervised by Heather Draper and Greg Moorlock in the Division of Health Sciences.

Wed 13 Jul 2022, 12:36 | Tags: HS_SSSH HealthSciences

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