Extensible fibrillin-rich microfibrils support elastic fibres that endow
tissues with elastic recoil. We showed that microfibrils are degraded in
photodamaged skin, causing loss of elasticity and wrinkling. We developed
a rapid in vivo assay, `The Manchester Patch Test Assay', which
predicts the potential of anti-ageing products to restore microfibrils in
photoaged skin. The assay was used to demonstrate the efficacy of a Boots
Healthcare anti-ageing product, showcased on BBC Horizon in 2007.
Impacts include: dramatically increased sales for Boots, investment and
changes to product development strategies of international personal care
companies, who now use `The Manchester Patch Test Assay' to support
The need to manage, analyse and interpret the volumes of data and
literature generated by modern high-throughput biology has become a major
barrier to progress. Research at the University of Manchester on
interoperability and advanced interfaces has resulted in innovative
software (Utopia Documents) that links biomedical data with scientific
literature. The software has been adopted by international publishing
houses (Portland Press, Elsevier, Springer, etc.), allowing them
to explore new business models, and by pharmaceutical companies (e.g.
AstraZeneca, Roche), providing new opportunities to explore more
efficient, cost-effective methods for exploiting and sharing in-house data
and knowledge. The research also led to a spin-out company, Lost Island
Labs, in 2012, which expects a profit [text removed for publication] in
its first year.
Impact on commerce: A patented technique for separating methylated
and non-methylated DNA has been licensed and a kit brought to market,
along with other commercial reagent licenses.
Impact on health and welfare: The demonstration that two
mechanisms of epigenetic gene regulation, DNA methylation and histone
acetylation, are linked, has led to trials of separate drugs known to
affect each mechanism as a combined treatment for high-risk patients with
myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).
Beneficiaries: Companies have gained commercial benefit from
licensing UoE IP to market products. High-risk MDS patients will benefit
from improved treatment.
Significance and Reach: Commercial earnings across 4 companies
from international sales in the period estimated at over [text removed for
publication], mainly since 2010. Commercial significance includes the
first commercially-available technique for separating methylated and
The incidence of MDS is estimated at 3-4 cases diagnosed annually per
100,000 of the population in Europe (an estimated 26,000 individuals) and
up to 20,000 new diagnoses per year in the USA. Incidence increases with
age — up to 15 new cases annually per 100,000 in individuals aged over 70
years. MDS occurrence is increasing as the age of the population
increases, so the significance of new therapies is high.
Attribution: All research was led by Adrian Bird at UoE. Reik
(Babraham Institute) contributed to development of one of the licensed
Research at the University of Manchester (UoM) has changed the landscape
of medical care and research in fungal infections internationally. The
impacts include: the world's first commercialised molecular diagnostic
products for aspergillosis and Pneumocystis pneumonia (£10m
investment); pivotal contributions to the preclinical development (£35m
investment), clinical developments and registrations of 3 new antifungals
with combined market share of ~$2 billion; one (voriconazole, 2012 sales
>$750m worldwide) now first line therapy for invasive aspergillosis
with improved survival of 15-20%; and internationally validated methods to
detect azole resistance in Aspergillus (an emerging problem partly
related to environmental spraying of azole fungicides for crop
Genetic skeletal diseases (GSDs) are an extremely diverse and complex
group of genetic diseases that affect the development of the skeleton.
Although individually rare, as a group of related genetic diseases they
have an overall prevalence of at least 1 per 4,000 children, which
extrapolates to a minimum of 225,000 people in the European Union. This
burden in pain and disability leads to poor quality of life and high
healthcare costs. GSDs are difficult diseases to diagnose and there are
currently no treatments, therefore, arriving at a confirmed diagnosis is
vital for clinical management, psycho-social support and genetic
Research conducted at the University of Manchester (UoM) has had a major
influence on establishing the correct diagnosis of specific GSDs by the
discovery of causative genes and mutations and the subsequent development
of accurate and reliable DNA testing protocols. This has significantly
improved both accuracy of, and access to, genetic testing in the UK,
Europe and worldwide.
40% of all cancer patients, who are cured of their disease, receive
radiotherapy as part of their treatment. The number of cancer cures could
be increased if the application of radiotherapy could be improved.
Research at the University of Manchester (UoM) has: led the way in
identifying, validating and exemplifying the value of
predictive/prognostic biomarkers of response to radiotherapy; and
demonstrated, in clinical trials, the therapeutic efficacy of combining
molecularly targeted agents with radiotherapy. Further, the pharmaceutical
industry has incorporated these concepts into drug development programs,
accelerating clinical drug development, and thus saving them time and
WHO estimates that 600 million school-age children need deworming
treatment and preventive intervention.
The University of Manchester (UoM) Immunology Group delivered an
educational programme on the immune response and biology of parasitic worm
infections in areas where worm infections are most prevalent, including
Uganda and Pakistan, and with UK immigrant communities.
International benefits include health worker and educator training, which
is critical for improving the understanding of worm infection and
distribution of health education messages to endemic communities.
Nationwide engagement activities provided immigrant communities and school
pupils with improved awareness of global health issues and a greater
understanding of immunology, and have inspired some participants to pursue
careers in science.
Atlas Genetics Ltd is a University of Bath spin-out company established
in 2005 by Dr John Clarkson, a former lecturer in the Department of
Biology and Biochemistry (DBB). In collaboration with DBB researchers,
Atlas Genetics developed novel technology for rapid (<30 minute) and
robust detection of infectious diseases at the point-of-care. Atlas
Genetics has raised over £22m funding specifically to develop the Atlas ioTM
detection system, which combines a patented electrochemical detection
system with probes for specific micro-organisms within a small disposable
cartridge. Different probe cartridges are used to detect a range of
pathogens that have critical clinical importance and large-scale
socio-economic significance, including Candida, methicillin
resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), bacterial meningitis, and
sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) Trichomonas, Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea.
Candida research in DBB underpinned the specificity, sensitivity
and application of the technology to clinical samples and was used in
seeking capitalization for Atlas.
Atlas Genetics re-located from the University to a nearby business park
and employs 35 full-time staff, some having moved from academia into the
company largely thanks to the synergistic relationship with University of
Bath researchers. The ioTM platform has undergone successful
clinical tests on Chlamydia and Trichomonas at Johns
Hopkins University, USA. The ioTM platform and Chlamydia
test is scheduled for clinical trials in 2014, with roll out in Europe and
the USA, pending regulatory approval, providing global reach within the
$42bn in vitro diagnostics market.
High-throughput genotyping has revolutionised the genome-wide search for
associations between genetic variants and disease. Professor Sir Edwin
Southern of the University of Oxford's Biochemistry Department invented
the highly cost-effective array-based method of analysing genetic
variation based on hybridisation between probes and samples on glass
slides or `chips'. The spin-out company Oxford Gene Technology (OGT)
founded by Southern in 1995 licenses the patent to manufacturers of
`single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) chips', including Illumina and
Agilent, a global business exceeding $500M per year. Southern has
continued to refine and extend this technology to increase its speed,
efficiency and cost-effectiveness. This revolutionary technology has
widespread applications such as prediction of individual risk, development
of new drugs, provision of personalised treatments, and increased
cost-effectiveness of clinical trials. Licence revenues fund R&D
within OGT, and endow charitable trusts supporting primary school science
education in the UK and crop improvement in the developing world.
Genotoxicity (DNA damage) can often induce carcinogenesis. Swansea-led
work on `genotoxicity
thresholds' reassured 25,000 HIV-infected individuals, who had taken
anti-viral tablets (Viracept®)
contaminated with the genotoxin ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS).
Before 2008, genotoxicity was assumed to increase with dose, and
genotoxic drugs were
discarded. Research at Swansea University showed that exposure to
low-levels of genotoxins did
not pose significant risks to DNA. This concept has now been incorporated
guidelines; in July 2008 the European Medicines Agency accepted that
cancer-risk was not
increased for patients who received Viracept® tablets contaminated with a
low dose of the
genotoxin ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS).