The LINK Applied Genomics Programme has proved to be a success in that it has made it easier to diagnose meningitis, MRSA and Chlamydia; has regenerated spinal nerve cells, made it possible to personalize breast cancer treatment and has provided effective vaccines against Salmonella. This programme had researchers from 17 universities and research institutions in collaboration with 23 industrial partners to identify new methods of harnessing the human genome.
This Ģ30 million research programme is centered on providing maximum information about the human genome and effective incorporates areas in biomedicine and healthcare. Following are some highlights of the programme:
* Nerve tissue regeneration - Scientists at King's College London and Oxford BioMedica are currently working on ways to understand why injured or severed nerves fail to regrow. This is especially important in spinal cord injuries where nerve connections are severed leading to paralysis.
Scientists hope to find the gene responsible for stimulating nerve regrowth, which could be a huge boon to affected patients. This research could pave the way for stimulating regrowth and repair in damaged nerves.
* Personalized cancer treatment - researchers from KuDOS pharmaceuticals, Imperial College London and the Gurdon Institute, Cambridge are engaged in exploring the molecular signatures of the mutated genes that are responsible for the development of breast cancer. They hope to find out if these mutations are susceptible to a drug being developed by KuDOS. This drug does not affect normal cells, thereby avoiding the unpleasant effects of chemotherapy like nausea and loss of hair.
* Rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases - Scientists at the Universities of Bath and Glasgow, with colleagues from Stobhill Hospital and Atlas Genetics Ltd are working towards developing assays that could be held in the hand and identify specific bacteria in no time. If these methods are successful, they could result in the rapid diagnosis of deadly infections as MRSA infection and bacterial meningitis.
* Vaccine against salmonella - Scientists from the Universities of Cambridge, Newcastle and Oxford and University College London are working to develop an effective vaccine against salmonella. They are looking at mutant bacterial strains, which have proved effective against this pathogen.
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) sponsored the LINKS programme.
BBSRC Media Officer
Dr Celia Caulcott