Novel bioluminescent bacterial biosensors developed at UWE, Bristol, and
commercialised by Randox, have been used by a range of companies to
demonstrate effectiveness of drugs and decontamination procedures. This
has improved development processes at companies including Clavis Pharma,
Purest Solutions and Dycem, leading to new manufacturing processes and
quality control test methods. The biosensors are used in novel
applications to give pharmacodynamic data on effectiveness of drugs and
real time in-situ demonstration of effectiveness of
decontamination processes. These biosensors, pioneered and developed by
Vyv Salisbury's group, have been commercially adopted and used for
evaluation by at least six collaborating companies.
Research led by Dr Holmes has identified a novel variant of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus
aureus (MRSA) in livestock. This represents a previously unidentified reservoir of infection which
has had impact on the epidemiology of MRSA and its management. This research also impacts on
antibiotic use in agriculture and its role in the emergence of antibiotic resistance. As a
consequence of these research findings commercial tests and testing protocols have been
developed to detect the new MRSA variant, which are now used widely in clinical settings
throughout Europe. The discovery has also been used to inform policy decisions at a governmental
level in the USA and Europe.
Researchers in the University of Cambridge's Department of Zoology have
developed a new
methodology to analyse pathogen evolution. This `antigenic cartography'
has led to the group
becoming integrally involved in the World Health Organisation (WHO)
influenza vaccine strain
selection process, and has directly contributed to more accurate and
appropriate flu vaccine
design, with associated international impacts on disease prevention and
public health (the flu
vaccine is given to ~350 million people annually). The research has
directly affected how public
health professionals conduct disease surveillance and sampling.
Professor William Stimson has led research into rapid diagnostic tests
for the food industry from
1996 to the present day. These tests reduce the time for microbiological
testing of food pathogens
from 2-5 days to within a working day. The new technology is fully
automated, uses less material
and involves fewer manipulations than previously available kits, leading
to a reduction in cost and
time. A spin out company, Solus Scientific Solutions Ltd., has attracted
funding for further Research & Development, and has created 24 jobs.
Sales of testing kits
produced revenue of £3.4 million by year end 2012, and have increased
since this date.
Since its discovery in the 1980s, avian metapneumovirus (AMPV) has spread
in poultry populations worldwide with major adverse health and food
security implications for commercial chickens and turkeys. Research at the
University of Liverpool (UoL) led to the registration of a live vaccine in
1994 which has played a global role in AMPV control, thereby safeguarding
the supply of poultry meat and eggs. Recent research and development at
the UoL has identified key control measures, relating to vaccine
application, vaccine selection, efficacy and safety, which have had a
significant impact on poultry health and consequently, poultry producers
and consumers. In particular, demonstration that live AMPV vaccines can
revert to virulence, that vaccine type applied influences field protection
and that continuous use of a single vaccine can influence circulating
field strains, has resulted in UoL leading policy making with regard to
current AMPV vaccine protocols.
UCL investigators have been at the forefront of characterising and
assessing HIV drug resistance since 1990, soon after the very first HIV
drug was licenced. There are currently more than 25 drugs available, and
our work over the last 23 years has directly determined how best these
therapies are used, and monitored in infected patients. We have extended
our work to a global perspective, in conjunction with the current rollout
of antiretroviral therapy to areas of the world devastated by the epidemic
- work which now informs guidelines of the World Health Organisation
(WHO), and has resulted in a marked reduction in mortality.
UCL spin-out company BioVex was launched in 1999 to exploit research
undertaken by David Latchman at the UCL Medical Molecular Biology Unit,
Department of Biochemistry. (This department is now part of the Department
of Structural and Molecular Biology, UCL/Birkbeck and Latchman is now
Master of Birkbeck.) Biovex worked to develop inactivated herpes simplex
viruses as therapies, and a promising dual-action oncolytic vaccine for
solid tumours, OncoVEXGM-CSF, was taken into successful Phase
II trials. In 2011 the company was bought out by Amgen for $1 billion —
still the largest ever cash sale of a UK biotech — and Amgen has now taken
this virus into a Phase III trial with promising initial results.
Impact: Economic, public policy and animal health and welfare:
Selective breeding based upon identification of PRNP genotypes can
eliminate animals that are susceptible to scrapie from the flock.
Significance: UK sheep meat exports are worth >£380million.
Breeding for scrapie resistance protected the sheep industry from similar
damage to that inflicted by BSE on cattle and the UK economy.
Beneficiaries: Farmers, animals, consumers
Attribution: Professor Hunter and Dr. Goldmann (Roslin Institute,
now part of UoE) identified polymorphisms of the PrP (PRNP) gene
linked to scrapie susceptibility and resistance in sheep.
Reach: International, programmes breeding for resistance to
scrapie in sheep are now used in the UK, Europe and USA.
Through their study of DNA polymerases from organisms of the domain
archaea, researchers at Newcastle University and University College London
identified the mechanism by which these organisms avoid potentially
damaging mutations in their DNA. As a consequence of this work they
invented a novel genetically-engineered DNA polymerase. This enzyme has
been patented and is the world's only high-fidelity, proofreading DNA
polymerase that efficiently reads through uracil in the polymerase chain
reaction (PCR). PCR is a very widely used technique in biomedical
research. An international bioscience company [Text removed for
publication, EV d] signed a licensing agreement with Newcastle University
in 2008 to market the enzyme, and total sales since 2008 exceed [Text
removed for publication, EV d]. Further commercial exploitation has begun
through licensing agreements with other major companies.
Impact: Policy and public engagement: Formulation of the UK
government's badger culling policy for the control of bovine tuberculosis
that is currently being implemented. The underpinning research also had
wider impact in terms of generating significant public debate and
enhancing public engagement.
Significance: DEFRA has estimated the cost of TB control in
England at £1 billion over the next 10 years without taking further
action, and the cost of TB breakdown on a farm at £34,000
Beneficiaries: Livestock Industry (Cattle farms), Consumers,
Attribution: Work performed by Professor Morrison (University of
Reach: The immediate reach is the UK.