Research

The Biomedical Research Facility is a hub of research activity within the University of Surrey supporting our researchers and collaborators and partners in biomedical research. The facility supports research extending from the molecular sciences to the development of new medicines in humans, directed towards the betterment of human health

Current research

Targeted Tumour Therapy: To assess the ability of anticancer agents, either alone or in combination with other anticancer agents, to treat or prevent tumour growth.

Aims and objectives

1) To assess the growth of different tumour types (for example melanoma, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate and breast cancer) within a mouse/rat model.

2) To assess the use of anti-cancer agents, alone or in combination to kill tumour cells.

3) To investigate the mechanisms and cell death pathways induced by anticancer agents, and their ability to prime the immune system against the tumour cells.

Potential benefits 

Current cancer therapies target all the cells in the body including normal healthy cells. By creating novel agents that target only tumour cells this should reduce unwanted side effects experienced by patients.

To develop and investigate the anti-tumour potential of new agents, as well as new unique combinations to provide more effective cancer therapies. Use of Oncolytic viruses to create a cancer vaccine which will target the primary tumours and train the immune system to recognise tumour metastases which have spread to other parts of the body. The findings of this research will be made available to other scientists and clinicians via Publications and presentations at national and international meetings thus advancing the knowledge of this area of research.

Exploring the role of inflammation in common eye diseases

Aims and objectives

The aim of this project is to determine the role of ocular inflammation in common retinal diseases and to establish whether novel therapeutic targets have the potential to improve outcomes.

Potential benefits 

The primary objective of this project is to gain a greater insight into the factors controlling inflammation in the retina. We aim to use this information to identify new potential therapeutic targets and to test new treatment strategies to prevent, attenuate or reverse ocular diseases that have an inflammatory component, including some of the most common causes of blindness in the Western world, such as diabetic eye disease, age-related macular degeneration and uveitis. Current therapeutic approaches for treating these diseases offer some benefit but are often only partially effective and are frequently associated with serious side-effects. These diseases, therefore, continue to represent a significant socioeconomic burden in the UK and the industrialised world and consequently there continues to be an urgent need to identify novel targets and generate new therapeutic strategies. This project will use animal models of ocular inflammation to assess and test new treatment modalities emerging from the biomedical mechanistic knowledge gained from the approaches outlined above.

Targeted Gene Delivery for Haemostasis

Aims and objectives

The aims of this project are to improve the technology underlying gene therapy to develop treatments for inherited blood coagulation disorders. in addition, it will further our understanding of the role of blood coagulation factors in inflammation and determine the feasibility of developing novel treatments. 

Potential benefits 

This project will aid the development of treatments for sever inherited diseases. It may also open up the possibility of alternative therapies for the treatment of disease/s where blood coagulation factors play an important role in the response to injury.

Nox enzymes in aging bladder dysfunction

Aims and objectives

The overall aim of this project is to investigate the role of NADPH oxidase (Nox) and its derived reactive oxygen species (ROS) in controlling bladder function and the mechanisms whereby Nox proteins act in aging bladders leading to dysfunction. Age-related diseases present huge health and societal challenge to our aging society. In UK, 40% NHS budget is spent on patients aged over 65. One class of highly prevalent but under-studied aging disease is overactive bladder disorders (OAB). OAB seriously reduces the quality of life and is the main reason for entering into care-homes. It costs 3% NHS budget with additional financial and social burden to the community. Why OAB occurs is largely unknown and factors that predispose aging bladders to over-activity are poorly understood. A recent advance is recognition of the urothelium, the inner mucosal lining of bladder wall, as a new sensory structure that detects bladder fullness and hence controls bladder function. Urothelium can be selectively targeted with fewer side effects on normal muscle function. The bottleneck for further progress is to identify urothelium-derived factors that make aging bladders prone to overactivity. Reactive oxygen species (ROS), the oxygen-containing and chemically active molecules, are fundamental signalling molecules in many pathological

Potential benefits

This is the first study to examine the role of Nox and ROS in urothelial function. The outcome of this project is expected to identify a novel regulator, Nox molecules, in the newly-recognized sensory structure – the urothelium, and provide new insight into bladder aging and bladder dysfunction in the humans. It will also provide added translational value for the use of novel specific Nox inhibitors in improving aging bladder function and the potential for treating bladder disorders. Providing scientific basis for instillation of Nox inhibitors in the bladder in clinical practice.

Role of experience in synaptic translation in vivo

Aims and objectives

Sleep helps us integrate new information from the environment in the brain on a daily basis. But how sleep achieves this function, in particular at the level of molecules, is not well understood. An important molecular step that promotes the stabilisation of new information in the brain is the production of new proteins (i.e., protein synthesis). New proteins will provide the building blocks necessary for the restructuration of communication between brain cells. Work in the past 20 years has identified that protein synthesis can occur directly at the synapses – the site of brain cell communication. Protein synthesis will thus allow to modify and stabilise each synapse individually in response to new experiences during wakefulness. Despite considerable evidence that sleep is a preferred time for protein production compared to wakefulness, the way how sleep regulates protein synthesis at synapses has never been investigated.

This project aims to address the hypothesis that sleep benefits brain plasticity (i.e. integration of new information into existing brain circuits) during development and adulthood by primarily regulating protein synthesis specifically at synapses.

Potential benefits

Protein synthesis at synapses is at the basis of our general cognitive abilities. This is because it is involved in the creation of synapses during development and their constant modification (i.e. experience, learning) during adulthood. Dysregulation of protein production at synapses are known to be responsible for several neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. autism spectrum disorders). Since sleep amounts are highest during early life and lowest during ageing, insights into the role of sleep in synaptic protein synthesis will provide an important starting point for future investigations at both the fundamental and the clinical level.

Study of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in mice

Aims and objectives

The overall aim of the project is to ‘map’ the spread of drug-resistant bacteria in the intestine. Current approaches to study the spread of resistance are limited and favoured towards detecting organisms that are easy to grow in the laboratory. We will develop a new DNA-based detection system to allow us to identify which organisms carry resistance regardless of whether we can grow them in vitro. We will use this system to study how drug-resistant bacteria spread in the intestine during treatment of the host with antibiotics.

Potential benefits

Generating a ‘map’ that describes which organisms are drug-resistant in the intestine will help us identify key reservoirs. This knowledge could allow us to apply more targeted interventions to reduce their populations. Within the context of a host, this could reduce the number of drug-resistant organisms released into the environment and reduce the risk that other members of the population could acquire the drug-resistant bacteria.This information will be of use to both human and animal populations.

Studying the pathobiology of enteric bacterial pathogens

Aims and objectives

The aim of the work is to better understand and control infections caused by food- and water-borne bacterial pathogens. We will:

  1. Identify factors that enable bacterial attachment to the intestine
  2. Characterise how these factors impact on the development of disease
  3. Explore the effectiveness of new treatments in controlling disease
  4. Find factors that play a role in transmission between hosts.

Potential benefits

This study will result in new knowledge that can be used develop novel intervention or control strategies. This could benefit society by reducing the number of people that are infected during disease outbreaks.

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