Development of the human cell GADD45a assay enabled accurate
identification of carcinogens in vitro, with a low rate of
misleading positives. Through the spin-out company Gentronix, this
research is reducing costs to industry and decreasing the use of animals
in research. Industrial collaboration has enabled commercial adoption of
the technology in many sectors. With a 10-fold increase in orders in 2012
versus 2008, Gentronix is a profitable business employing 17 people and
with an annual turnover of £1.88m. During 2008-12, Gentronix released a
series of new products, established testing services, and signed a product
license agreement with GlaxoSmithKline. More than 100 companies worldwide
are using Gentronix kits, including pharmaceutical, agricultural and
health and beauty companies, along with manufacturers of food flavourings
and household goods. The Gentronix assay is currently being reviewed by
the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods.
African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus; referred to as `AWDs' hereafter
for brevity) have been classed
as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
for 22 years. Large,
well-managed captive breeding programmes provide a safety net to restore
However, the management of the AWD population has been difficult owing to
an incomplete family
record of captive AWDs, which risks introducing genetic disorders caused
by inbreeding. A
genetically informed management plan developed by University of Glasgow
provided a genetic measure of diversity and establishes a genetically
informed pedigree, which is
used in the European Endangered Species Programme for African Wild Dogs.
This has introduced
a more informed means to manage the captive AWD population, to maintain
the genetic diversity
of the species across the European zoo network (roughly half the world's
captive AWD population),
with 53 zoos in 16 European countries (and Israel) currently
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a major cause of death in older men,
in the UK and elsewhere. A large UK trial led by the University of
Cambridge evaluated the long-term benefits of ultrasound screening for AAA
in men aged 65-74 years. This provided the basis for the introduction of a
UK national AAA screening programme in men aged 65; this was announced in
2008, initiated in 2009, and achieved full coverage of England in 2013.
Similar screening has started in Sweden, New Zealand and in parts of
Italy, and is being actively discussed in Denmark, Norway and Finland.
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.
Research by Marianne Odlyha and her group at the Department of Biological
Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, has led to the development of
minimally invasive analytical methods and portable tools (dosimeters) for
assessing damage to historical artefacts. These dosimeters are now in use
at locations around the world, including the Tate Gallery's store rooms,
English Heritage properties (Apsley House) and museums in Ghent, Cracow
and Mexico. Methods for assessing damage, and for mitigation of pollutant
impact on objects in museum enclosures, have been disseminated to
conservation professionals through workshops and training courses held
across Europe. The assessment and prevention of damage is vital to
conserve the cultural as well as the monetary value of artefacts.
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.
Research on clinically important red blood cell membrane proteins has
helped avoid unnecessary treatment of Rhesus negative pregnant women and
enabled the early diagnosis of a rare kidney disease. During the late
1990s, researchers at the University of Bristol, in collaboration with the
Blood Service in Bristol, cloned, sequenced and characterised many red
blood cell membrane proteins important for transfusion, including the
Rhesus proteins and Band 3/AE1 (SLC4AE1 gene). The work on Rhesus proteins
facilitated the use of less invasive genetic screening methods to
ascertain whether treatment was required to avoid Haemolytic Disease of
the Foetus or Newborn (HDFN). In the UK, 5,000 women have been screened
since 2001. Within the first six months of implementation of a Danish
national screening program in January 2010, 862 women avoided unnecessary
treatment. Reducing unnecessary treatment of mothers has saved resources
and avoided unnecessary exposure to human derived blood products. In
addition, research that has identified specific SLC4AE1 gene mutations
that cause the rare kidney disease called distal renal tubular acidosis
has enabled the early diagnosis and treatment of the disease, resulting in
improved outcomes for patients.
Research by Professors Tamara Galloway, David Melzer, and Michael
Depledge at Exeter
identified, for the first time, associations between exposure to the
contaminant bisphenol A (BPA) and changing incidences of disease. The
research showed that
higher exposures to BPA are associated with an increased risk of
cardiovascular disease and
hormonal changes. The research has influenced policy development
worldwide, raised public
awareness of environmental chemical health risks, stimulated public debate
and critical media
analysis, and is stimulating enhanced public, policy-maker and business
interest in anthropogenic
chemicals in the environment and their implications for human health.
Impact: Animal Health and Welfare, Economics: The BVD vaccine
associated with emergence of BNP was withdrawn from sale.
Significance: BNP cases have been reported worldwide. On affected
farms, the case fatality rate is very high, with losses of up to 5% of
calves in a herd being reported. Despite the vaccine being withdrawn,
cases continue to be found in some calves born to dams that have been
historically vaccinated. In addition, reporting has increased due to
increased awareness and Zoetis subsidising post-mortem examinations.
However, as an indirect measure, the number of cases being diagnosed at
post-mortem at SRUC fell by 42% between 2012 and 2013.
Beneficiaries: Livestock Industry, Animal Health Company, Farmers.
Attribution: Work performed by University of Edinburgh (Penny,
Morrison, Sargison, Bell) and SRUC (Hosie, Howie, Kerr, Caldow) identified
BNP as a new disease entity, elucidated the cause, and developed
strategies to reduce the incidence. This also involved a collaboration
with the Moredun Research Institute (Willoughby)
Reach: BNP is recognised world-wide (a peak of 4500 cases in 2011)
including France, Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium,
Luxembourg, Italy, and Spain. The disease is unknown in countries which do
not vaccinate against BVD (Denmark, Austria, and Switzerland)
Postoperative local recurrence affects 20-30% of patients with rectal
cancer. Between 1993 and 2013, University of Leeds researchers identified
the importance of pathology studies to show a disease-free margin around
the excised tumour and how to predict this margin routinely and accurately
using simple histopathology and preoperative MRI.
We also used photography in the pathological assessment of the quality of
surgery and were instrumental in the adoption of modern techniques by
professional organisations around the world.
Following adoption of our techniques in England and Scotland, local
recurrence has halved with 10% better survival and cost savings of £60
million. Our methods have also become the gold standard in the treatment
of rectal cancer patients around the world.