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The BBSRC has three main themes to a Strategic Plan for Research. One of these is the basic
bioscience underpinning human health. That is where Babraham science is focused. Unless
we understand the basic bioscience which underpins human health then we will not be in a position
to be able to understand what goes wrong in human disease.
So Babraham's research is split into three major themes. Firstly, there is the cellular
signalling grouping, secondly the immunology grouping and thirdly epigenetics and chromatin.
In the signalling programme we are understanding how acute responsiveness occurs, for instance,
in the way in which a body deals with infections. That leads into the immunology where understanding
how the immune system develops, how it changes during aging for example, whereas within epigenetics
and chromatin we are looking firstly at developing organisms and secondly at how the body has
adapted to changes in its environment.
Epigenetic modification or changes to the DNA and the chromatin in the nucleus which
make the genome experience the environment in a particular way and talk to the genome
and make it function, make the organism function in a particular way. Imagine that there is
about 200 or 300 different cells in the human body that all have their own unique epigenetic
information and epigenome, as we call it, which is uniquely characteristic of each cell
type. So there is liver cells which have a particular epigenome, there is brain cells
which have another type of epigenome and the epigenome, in essence, instructs the genome
to only use a particular subset of all the genes that it has in order to confer identity,
be it a liver cell, be it a brain cell on the particular cells in the body.
For example, we know that colleagues here at the Institute have discovered that that
a particular class of genes that are epigenetically regulated controls the amount of fat that
the body acquires during development and after birth and later on and so it is possible that
this type of epigenetic regulation underlies the develop of obesity for example later in
life and perhaps alter diabetes.
Dr Michael Wakelam, Director of Babraham Institute Babraham has a number of technologies which
facilitates it work. Firstly, there are mass spectrometry methodologies which allow us
here not to just look at proteins as in many places but also at lipids which are critically
important in signalling processes in cells. Secondly, we have specialised systems such
as phosphorescence activated cell sorters...
...which allow us to isolate particular populations of cells, for instance, immune cells for study.
Babraham is at the forefront of epigenetics research in Europe. It is one of the largest
centres that carries out this type of research and the technology we have been able to develop
here and build up through investments by BBSRC, MRC and also the University of Cambridge has
really put us at the forefront of this kind of epigenomics field worldwide.
Our imagine facility has a number of microscopes. Particularly the confocal microscopes can
be used to identify the localisation within a cell of various proteins on genes. This
technology has been developed further recently to allow the examination of these cells under
live conditions. This means we can look at the movement of proteins for instance within
a cell when it has been stimulated. A good example of this is a neutrophil which is responding
to an infection.
We can look at the movement of signalling proteins within these cells in response to
the infection and see how that changes in the presence of various pharmacological inhibitors,
therefore, allowing us to investigate the disease processes.
Links with companies is extremely important for Babraham science. That is because, whilst
the research has its own intrinsic importance, at the end of the day it has to have a benefit
for society.
We have a number of links with the companies in our incubators on site of which there are
32 at present. Some of these are spin-outs from Babraham science, others have chosen
to locate here where they can, amongst other things, interact with and collaborate with
the Babraham scientists.
Crescendo is a new biotech company established at the beginning of 2009 aiming to make new
antibody based therapeutics.
The advantages of antibodies as therapeutic agents are that they are highly specific and
they don't have the unpredictable side effects of small molecule drugs. At Crescendo we are
trying to develop antibody based fragment therapeutics...
...which have those advantages but also the advantages of small molecules, in other words,
topical delivery, no need for injection.
The science that is the basis for Crescendo has been occurring over about 10 years here
at Babraham and it has been pioneered by Drs Marianne Brugerman and Mike Towsick. The advantages
of being based at Babraham are that we are living a very rich scientific environment
and we are constantly tapping into the scientific expertise of the Institute. There are about
20 or 30 other companies based at Babraham and that makes it an exciting environment
to be in.
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Modern biomedicine: The Babraham Institute

532 Folder Collection
楊子儀 published on February 28, 2016
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