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C2D2 makes four new research priming awards

Posted on 14 August 2015

Four exciting, innovative projects have received funding from C2D2 worth £79,907 following the recent University Research Priming Competition

The awards involve ten University of York academics from five departments.

Dr Christoph Baumann (Biology), Dr Laurence Wilson (Physics), Dr Martin Fascione (Chemistry) and Professor Liz Sockett (School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham)

Predatory Bacteria as new antimicrobial strategy

Antimicrobial resistance is putting lives at risk. Although more antibiotics are being developed, common pathogens can quickly acquire resistance. We propose an alternative to the standard (chemical) treatment of common bacterial pathogens: predatory bacteria. These micro-organisms are frequently part of healthy gut flora, and prey on potentially harmful bacteria such as E. coli and P. aeruginosa. Many key details about their life cycle remain obscure. We will initiate a study in collaboration with a world-expert on the microbiology of predatory bacteria (Prof. Liz Sockett, University of Nottingham) and harness modern biophysical techniques such as high-resolution fluorescence microscopy and holographic imaging to assess how the predators locate and consume their prey.

Professor Michael Brockhurst, Dr Ville-Petri Friman, Dr Siobhan O’Brien and Dr Peter O’Toole (Biology)

High-throughput flow cytometry for experimental evolutionary microbiology

Flow cytometry is the gold-standard methodology in the field of evolutionary microbiology for estimating microbial fitness and feasibly allows rapid large-scale screening of 1000s of genotypes. To maintain York’s competitiveness in evolutionary microbiology research, and to allow the design of more ambitious and sophisticated experiments, investment is required to establish high-throughput evolutionary analysis of microbes by flow cytometry as an enhancement of the current facilities within the Technology Facility, which are lacking automated sample loading and sufficient capacity. Establishing this method at York will greatly enhance ongoing research projects and generate preliminary data to underpin ambitious future grant applications.

Dr Ian Hitchcock (Biology)

Determining the structure of the Thrombopoietin Receptor Transmembrane and Intracellular domains for the Development of Receptor Antagonists

Blood cell production is an extremely complex process and is tightly controlled to maintain normal blood cell numbers. If this process is disturbed in humans, through genetic mutations in certain blood cells, the effects can be extremely severe. In some cases blood cancers can develop, where too many blood cells are made. We have recently shown that a protein called MPL is critically important for the development of a group of blood cancers and now want to develop new drugs to block this protein. This project will determine certain structural aspects of the MPL protein to help design blocking drugs.

Professor Jennifer Potts (Biology) and Dr Steven Johnson (Electronics)

Towards biosensors and nanoconstruction with a novel protein building block

Stratified and personalised medicine and the associated need for multiplexed detection are driving the development of novel biosensor arrays. A critical challenge facing these technologies is the identification of immobilisation strategies that ensure binding affinity and specificity are retained following selective integration of specific antibodies with individual biosensors within an array. This proposal will address this challenge using a novel repetitive protein scaffold discovered in the Potts group to direct the assembly of antibodies with high spatial resolution. Our technology will underpin future innovation of multiplexed biosensors capable of detecting a variety of antigens including bacteria, disease biomarkers and drugs.

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