GSK to help to end 10 Neglected tropical diseases

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) released a press statement this week announcing that it has joined other global pharmaceutical companies and leading organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK Department for International Development and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in an effort to support developing countries to defeat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Neglected tropical diseases affect more than one billion people in developing countries, causing illness, disability and death, and increasing the burden on over-stretched health systems.

This united group will support the goals given this week by the WHO to control or eliminate ten of the 17 diseases designated as neglected tropical diseases by the end of the 2020. This includes eliminating five diseases: lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), guinea worm, blinding trachoma, sleeping sickness and leprosy, and controlling a further five: soil transmitted helminthes (intestinal worms), schistosomiasis, river blindness, Chagas and visceral leishmaniasis by 2020.

The CEO of GSK, Sir Andrew Witty said: “I am delighted to announce that GSK is part of this united effort to free future generations from the burden of neglected tropical diseases. We fully support the WHO’s bold vision and we are committed to playing our part in helping to achieve universal coverage of intervention programmes for diseases that can be controlled or eliminated by existing treatments, and to spur R&D into new treatments for diseases where none currently exist. Through this new partnership, we have both the means and the energy to strike a decisive blow against disease in the world’s poorest countries.”

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Almac achieves success in their MHRA Audits

Pharmiweb has reported that Almac has achieved success in MHRA inspections at both their Craigavon Headquarters, Northern Ireland and Elvingston, Scotland sites. These inspections were the first biennial audits to confirm continued compliance with Investigation Medicinal Products (IMP) licenses and GMP certificates.

The first inspection audited Almac’s isotope laboratory facility in support of their IMP license. Following the MHRA’s acceptance of Almac’s response report, Almac’s licence will be applicable to both radiolabelled and non-labelled IMPs. The second inspection covered Almac’s analytical laboratory in Elvingston, Scotland, supporting its GMP certificate as a contract analytical facility.

The Inspector complimented the analytical team on their professionalism and laboratory high standards. As a result of this successful audit, two GMP certificates will be issued for human and veterinary applications.

President and Managing Director, Stephen Barr commented on the successful audits saying:
“We are delighted with the outcome of these inspections. It is reassuring to know that the value we place on our staff and facilities is recognised in this way, and adds further credibility to our wealth of experience and services we offer.”

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Anti-aging hope for Vitamin D

As reported by Pharmiweb,  current research suggests that Vitamin D supplements may have wide-ranging anti-ageing properties including the preservation of eyesight. The research is still at an early stage however research scientists believe it could have important implications for human health. Boosting the intake of vitamin D may have broad anti-ageing effects and in particular help prevent loss of vision and blindness in older people.

During the research study middle-aged mice treated with the vitamin for six weeks underwent changes in their eyes that led to improved vision. Levels of amyloid beta, a toxic protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease and known to be a hallmark of ageing, were also reduced in the animals’ eyes and blood vessels.

Lead scientist Professor Glen Jeffery, from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London, said: “Finding that amyloid deposits were reduced in the blood vessels of mice that had been given vitamin D supplements suggests that vitamin D could be useful in helping to prevent a range of age-related health problems, from deteriorating vision to heart disease.”

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GSK laboratory to help seek out Olympic drug cheats

As reported by London 2012, the pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline have unveiled their Anti Doping Laboratory for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The laboratory which is in Harlow, Essex will be operated by both scientists and leading experts from Kings College London. It will test 6, 250 samples throughout the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which is many more than have been tested in previous Games.

The new drug testing laboratory will employ over 1,000 staff to work within the anti-doping process, as well as 150 scientists who will carry out the testing. The team will be lead by Professor David Cowan from the Drug Control Centre at King’s College London. The laboratory will be in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, said: ‘As a science-based organisation, GSK is well placed to help deliver the scale and cutting edge technology required to run an operation like the anti-doping facility for London 2012.

‘We have worked with King’s to put systems in place to enable this laboratory to test more samples than any previous Games and at the same time developing a blueprint for doping operations at future Games.’

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North East scientists develop five a day fruit and veg test

As reported by The Journal Live, Scientists at the universities of Aberystwyth and Newcastle have developed a simple urine test to check whether or not patients are eating the recommended five portions of fruit and veg per day.

The prototype urine test can reveal what patients have been eating over the past week by identifying chemical fingerprints of substances that have been created by different foods. So far, chemical fingerprints have been found food fruit and veg such as raspberries, orange juice and broccoli.  The team of scientists believe that soon each food group will be identifiable and that a dip stick test will be available within the next five years.

Speaking of the test, Professor John Draper who lead the team of scientists at Aberystwyth university stated, “It should mean that for the first time researchers will be able to say for certain which items of food help protect against specific diseases, and those that can seriously increase the chance of getting a particular disease.”

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UK scientists investigate the science of sprouts

As reported by The Telegraph, young scientists in the UK are investigating why it is that some people hate the taste of the Christmas dinner staple, the Brussels sprout.

Budding scientists at Cornwell’s Eden Project will be testing their DNA to find out whether or not they have a genetic variation of a certain gene which makes a chemical within Brussels sprouts taste particularly bitter.  Luckily for them, those who don’t have this mutation (it is thought that this is about half the world’s population) don’t taste the bitterness at all, meaning they can take full advantage of the nutritional goodness of the good old sprout.

This national programme is being run for the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ADC) and is supported by the Wellcome Trust. The project aims to give young scientists some hands-on experience of working with DNA.

Talking of the programme, John Ellison, head of education strategy at Eden Project, said: “These workshops use Brussels sprouts and our own DNA to show how humans and plants have evolved together.

“The Eden Project provides the context to connect molecular biology with rainforest research into the plant diversity which is vital for future survival.”

Enjoy your sprouts and Merry Christmas!

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Oxford Research Scientists have revealed a potential new Malaria vaccine

As reported by BBC News Online, Research Scientists revealed a potential new malaria vaccine has shown promise in animal studies, according to research. An Oxford University team is to start safety trials in human volunteers after lab tests showed the vaccine works against all strains of the parasite.

UK scientists recently found the route malaria uses to enter blood cells. They hope to target this pathway in a new approach to developing a vaccine against malaria, which kills hundreds of thousands of people a year. Several potential malaria vaccines are already being tested in clinical trials; although no vaccine has yet been licensed for use.

One possibility is to exploit a recently-discovered potential weakness in the parasite’s life cycle. A team at the Sanger Institute found in November that a single receptor on the surface of red blood cells and a substance known as “PfRh5” on the parasite are crucial to the success of malaria in invading blood cells.

Early lab tests suggest a vaccine against the protein may prove effective, at least in animals. Dr Sandy Douglas is a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Training Fellow from the University of Oxford told the BBC: “We have found a way of making antibodies that kill all different strains of malaria parasites. This is still early phase research in animals. The next step is to do clinical trials in people.”

If safety tests of the vaccine prove successful, clinical trials in patients could begin within the next two to three years, says the Oxford team.

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£3.6m research project – effects of ageing

As reported by the Cambridge News, scientists in Cambridge are to take part in a £3.6m research project investigating the effects of ageing.

The project has received it’s funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The scientists are from the Babraham Institute, Cambridge University and MRC Laboratory.

The study will aim to discover more about a mechanism that controls cells in our immune systems. Speaking of the study, Professor Douglas Kell, CEO of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council stated,

“Maintaining and improving the health of older people so that they can live enjoyable and productive lives into their 80s and beyond is a major challenge facing society. Victories in public health and nutrition continue to increase life span around the world yet the lives of many older people are blighted by disability and disease. Combating the problems associated with old age will require an understanding at the most fundamental level of how our bodies change as we age. This team is well placed to deepen our understanding of how ageing affects our immune system and thus to provide knowledge that will be crucial for bioscience to help people live longer and healthier lives.”

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Cambridge Biotech, play key role, €40m Collaboration

As reported by Cambune, companies from the Cambridge Biotech cluster will play a key role in an innovative epigenetics collaboration called Blueprint.

This €40m project which will aim to discover how the epigenome influences health and disease. It is hoped that this will help lead to great advances in the treatment of a variety of human diseases.

Cambridge-based  contributors that will be involved with Blueprint, include:

The study of epigenetics can help explain how human genes are influenced by external forces. The genome is essentially the body’s building blocks, so it is the epigenome that determines how these building blocks construct living things.

When the regulation of this is faulty, it can result in diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity  and cardiovascular disease.

Professor Wolf Reik, associate director at the Babraham Institute and Professor of Epigenetics at the University of Cambridge, explains:

“It is clear that our susceptibility to disease can only be partially explained by genes alone and epigenetics is emerging as an important research area that is bringing insight to many adult conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and autoimmune disorders.

“The purpose of project Blueprint is to determine the properties and functions of epigenomes in development and disease.”

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Sirius Minerals to Create 1,000 Jobs in Yorkshire

Sirius Minerals has recently completed its first successful exploratory borehole at the York Potash project, and has received a grant from the UK government, reports

The £2.8 million grant is in response to the very strong possibility of the polyhalite grade that is being drilled for has been found in the main beds is of particularly high grade in the range presented in the York exploratory targets. The grant, which was given the day after the discoveries is intended to help the regional development of the area.

The Yorkshire based project is expected to create 1,000 direct jobs and over 4,000 indirect jobs, as well as supplying the UK with a long-term source of potash, which is used in the agricultural industry. The discovery and government aid has also seen Sirius Mineral’s share prices double in a month.

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GSK plans to build UK factory and create 1,000 jobs

As reported in This is, the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is planning on building it’s first new UK factory in 30 years. This will create 1,000 jobs.

As Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK explains, the plan comes are a result of tax breaks on innovation introduced by Chancellor George Osbourne,  ‘Because of changes in the UK tax regime, it will be our intention to bring more activity to Britain and take advantage of the situation here and increase our contribution to Britain. If it [corporation tax] is going to come down over the next few years, it will attract us to pay more tax here.’

The global pharma are considering Cumbria, County Durham and two locations in Scotland for their new factory. A decision is expected to be made in May.

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20% of UK Workforce has a Science Job

The Financial Times has reported that approximately one fifth of the UK workforce has a science based job.

5.8 million people are scientists or use science skills daily, the Science Council has discovered in a recent study. The number includes ‘secondary science workers’ such as nurses or software engineers. Scientists were found to be in industries as diverse as education, finance and farming, as well as more traditional scientific sectors, such as the chemical industry.

Chief executive of the Science Council, Diana Garnham, has said that secondary science roles can be “found literally everywhere in the economy.” The research indicates that by 2030, there could be over 7 million people involved in science in some way, prompting Diana Garnham to say “the research begins to explain… why there is such huge demand for people with science qualifications.”

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Teesside's Renewable Energy Renaissance

The Financial Times has reported that Teesside is becoming a hotbed for renewable energy investment, with around thirty low carbon investments.

These investments are set to be added to, with various proposals set to be implemented. They range from an anaerobic energy research plant to a processing plant for over 400,000 tonnes of household waste to a £200 million advanced gasification plant for the new energy and technology plant near Billingham. These will all create jobs and investment.

Another proposed scheme is the Tenergis project, which will process crude oil and produce diesel, kerosene and hydrogen. The North East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) estimates over 50 million metric tonnes of waste is produced annually, with over three quarters being recyclable. NEPIC believes the government should review its policies on industry and energy to protect the UK’s industrial base from carbon taxation. The hesitancy has left projects such as a £500 million biomass plant on hold in the area.

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Amnis Bought Out by Division of Merck

EMD Millipore, the life sciences arm of pharmaceutical company Merck, has purchased cell imaging instrument manufacturer Amnis Corporation, reports

Jonathan DiVincenzo, head of life sciences at EMD, has said that the deal improves the company’s flow cytometry range and will create “tremendous value for our customers’ research outcomes.” Amnis’ products are used in flow cytometry applications across various fields including biotech and pharmaceutical cell analysis.

DiVincenzo went on to add that “with this acquisition, EMD Millipore becomes the only provider of this technology.” David Basiji, Amnis chief executive, believes becoming park of Merck will “accelerate product development”for his company. The deal is expected to go through in the final quarter of this year.

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Google Chairman Criticises UK Science Sector has reported that Google chairman Eric Schmidt believes the UK to be throwing away its science and technology heritage.

Schmidt criticised the lack of effort put into trying to ignite young people’s passion for science, particularly IT, which is not compulsory past fourteen. The IT courses available at GCSE level were also criticised for teaching how to use, not how to create software. Schmidt believes the answer is to recombine art and science, as was the norm in the Victorian era. Authors such as Lewis Carroll are cited as examples; he taught maths at Cambridge whilst writing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The Google chairman went on to add that the separation of science and humanities, and the lack of championing of the science subjects in schools, is hurting the amount of students applying for undergraduate courses in science at university. Furthermore, though the UK sees a lot of small start-ups, most end up selling to large multi-national companies, something Schmidt says needs to change in order for Britain to re-emerge as a potential scientific leader

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BP Struggle to Fill Roles

Oil and gas company BP are struggling to find skilled engineers to expand their North Sea operations, reports the BBC.

The growth of the North Sea oil and gas fields, expected to create hundreds of jobs, seems to have stagnated as Trevor Garlick, head of BP’s North Sea operations, said the company cannot find the correct people to fill the roles. He adds that “getting hold of the right people is a real issue for us.”

BP views the North Sea as a ‘training ground’ where the most capable employees are developed before being moved overseas. Mr Garlick says that whilst “we are hiring a lot of people, but we are also an exporter of a couple of hundred people to other regions.” It is believed that the oil and gas industry is expected to create over 15,000 jobs in the next five years, though companies complain of the same problem as BP – being able to find qualified staff to fill positions.

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Oxfordshire to Generate 8,000 Bioscience Jobs

More than 8,000 new science jobs are to be created in Oxfordshire thanks to the governments news enterprise scheme, reports the BBC.

The Science Vale UK region of Oxfordshire is to benefit following a successful application by the Local Enterprise Partnership, which envisages 200,000 square metres of development for 8,400 high tech jobs by 2015. The development will consist of two of the UK’s biggest science research facilities, aiming to make Oxford and the UK globally competitive. New firms will gain from a £1 billion of business rate discounts and simplified planning procedures.

The jobs created are expected to be mainly in the biotechnology sector, a much needed boost for a seemingly stagnated area. The number of drug discovery and development companies in Oxfordshire has not risen since 2007, though both funding and products in the pipelines of said companies have increase dramatically. The enterprise zone will therefore continue to benefit the bioscience industry in Oxfordshire.

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1,500 Energy Jobs to be Created in Scotland

The BBC has reported that over the next ten years 1,500 jobs could be created in the energy industry in Scotland.

Scottish Power’s recruitment announcement is reported at a time when the employment statistics continue to be a worry. The jobs are needed to complete an upgrade of the power grid in line with the government’s renewable energy targets. The investment into the power grid and an “aging workforce” mean new staff are needed.

£3 billion is expected o be spent over the next ten years in order to improve over 500 miles of power lines, giving three times more capacity to carry power through the grid. Graduate engineers, apprentices and technicians are expected to be the people targeted for the new jobs. Scottish Power’s announcement, it is hoped, will help in reducing the unemployed across Scotland.

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30 Jobs to be Created – Lancashire Recycling Plant

A waste recycling plant is set to be opened in Darwen, Lancashire, pending approval by the council, reports the BBC.

SITA UK, who are developing the £5 million site believe the project will create up to 30 jobs at a site on Lower Eccleshill Road. The Materials Recycling Facility is designed to sort 35,000 tonnes of material annually, including plastic, cans, card and paper from Lancashire commercial businesses, rather than household waste.

The plans for the site are expected to be sent to the Council by the end of August in order to develop the facility as soon as possible. The facility will allow for materials to be unloaded, sorted and bailed within the site, excluding glass, which will have to be sorted outside in a specially designed area.

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Lincolnshire Food Research Centre to Create Jobs has reported that a new research centre for food production could be built in the county and make the area a world renowned centre of excellence.

Plans are to be put forward in October and funding will be received from the Regional Growth Fund. University of Lincoln director Andrew Stevenson says that the centre “will attract world experts.” He added that the research centre will “help… producers become more efficient.” The centre is intended to take on students applying for undergraduate and post-graduate degrees as well as researchers and staff in current Lincolnshire businesses.

The centre will costs between £7 million and £10 million, and is expected to create 70 jobs directly, and over 200 jobs in the area. Chief executive of the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society, Mark Farmer, said that the plans “will put Lincolnshire on the map as a world-leader in a very important research sector.”

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