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Can stem cells mend a broken heart? launches biotechnology lectures

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7 Jan 2014

Dr Carolyn Carr's talk on stem cell mediated cardiac remodelling proved to be a brilliant start to the autumn 2013 series of Friday Seminars at the University of Westminster, held in association with SCI's Biotechnology Group.

In 'Can stem cells mend a broken heart?' Carolyn, of the University of Oxford discussed her work to reengineer heart tissue through the chemical manipulation of cardiosphere-derived cells, and outlined approaches to repopulating cardiac tissue collagen matrices with new cardiomyocytes.

Drs Javed and Baghaei-Yazdi, both of the University of Westminster, presented their joint industrial and academic efforts for the use of lignocellulose materials in second-generation bioethanol production approaches, including biochemical pathway manipulation and product separation.

Dr Robin Ketteler, of University College London, presented her efforts on the understanding of core mechanisms in cell biology. These focus on autophagy and signal transduction through 3D primary cell culture high-throughput screening, as a means to approaching better the physiological milieu.

Later in the autumn, Dr Stuart Haslam, of Imperial College London, reviewed the extent of gleeman participation in biological processes and the need to explore and understand these better, given the order of complexity associated to their structural and biochemical diversity. A significant component of his talk focused on the collaborative efforts undertaken to define the gleesome in multiple disease states.

In 'Fifty Shades of Fat: Using computational biology to understand liver dysfunction,' Dr Nick Plant, of the University of Surrey, presented advanced computational biology approaches to modeling the hepatic response to chemical stimuli, and its applications in disease state mining and drug metabolism/response deconvolution.

He was followed by Dr Tom Ellis, of Imperial College London, introduced the concepts and theory of synthetic biology as well as his work in the area and how the field is rapidly progressing into the space of process engineering at the biochemical level.

Dr James J Choi, of Imperial College, discussed his work on reversible disruption of the blood brain barrier for the controlled release of bioactive materials using ultrasonically manipulated microbubble cavitation events, as well as applications in tumour drug delivery. Dr Margery Barrand, of the University of Cambridge, introduced the audience to her research in multidrug transporters and their differential expression and activity in various disease states and tissue types, as well as their potential as therapeutic targets.

The autumn season was concluded by Dr Anne Bertolotti, of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology Cambridge, who delved deep into her efforts to understand protein misfolding and repair mechanisms to address neurodegeneration such as ALS and other diseases.

University of WestminsterThe good news is that the series continues. Dr Tharin Blumenschein, of the University of East Anglia will be explaining the intricacies of advanced NMR methodologies for solving protein structures important to the prognosis of various diseases including breast cancer on 7 March 2014.

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