Congratulations to Dr Rosalind Hannen and Professor Kenny Linton  who have been successful in securing an award from MedCity’s new ‘Collaborate to Innovate’ scheme. The £2m ‘Collaborate to Innovate programme, led by King’s College London and part-funded by ERDF and HEFCE, is connecting 16 life sciences SMEs with leading academics to address a specific challenge related to their product or service.

Over 70 companies applied to the programme, and were matched with suitable academic partners to develop six to 12-month collaborative proposals worth up to £100,000. A panel of academics and industry representatives selected the winning projects, based on technological potential, R&D challenges, commercial potential, and impact.

Sarah Haywood, CEO of MedCity said:

“London and the South East has a strong life sciences ecosystem of innovative companies developing the next generation of therapeutic and healthcare products. We have everything from new drugs, development of healthcare services based on AI and VR technologies, new devices and smartphones used to help people manage their care.

Sometimes you just need a helping hand with finding a key piece of the puzzle, to get the idea from mind to market. I’m excited that we have been able to match 16 ground-breaking SMEs with academics from our leading universities to develop their innovations and make them commercially viable.”

QMUL’s Business Development team provided great support to the Collaborate to Innovate programme, working closely with the MedCity team to link up companies with academic research partners and develop project proposals.

Fourth State Medicine Ltd and QMUL

4SM aims to ‘bring space age technology to the medical sector’ and has developed innovative plasma technology to promote healthy wound healing. 4SM will be working with Dr Rosalind Hannen to validate the product and demonstrate its effectiveness for diabetic patients. Dr Hannen’s proposal with Fourth State Medicine was the most highly ranked by the review panel.

Selcia Ltd and QMUL

Selcia is a drug discovery company that has access to a 1000 compound cyclosporin-derivative library. Through collaboration with Professor Kenneth Linton they will work on screening the library to identify potential novel treatments for cholestatic liver disease.

A protein has been found to have a previously unknown role in the ageing of cells, according to an early study by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). The researchers hope that the findings could one day lead to new treatments for ageing and early cancer.

 The organs and tissues in our bodies are formed by a vast number of cells, which altogether co-ordinate their actions for our body to function properly. However, a number of ‘abnormal’ cells have previously been found in tissues derived from old patients and at the initial stages of cancer.

These particular cells suffer a growth arrest termed ‘senescence’, which is thought to affect how the tissue functions. Senescent cells fail to proliferate, but they manage to communicate with their neighbouring cells, mainly through the release of inflammatory proteins.

The study, published in Cell Reports, describes a new way that senescent cells communicate, which is via the expression of integrin membrane proteins, including a protein called ‘integrin beta 3’ which is highly expressed during senescence.

Lead researcher Dr Ana O'Loghlen from QMUL’s Blizard Institute, said: “This is the first time that integrin beta 3 has been identified in the context of senescence and ageing, and could be in the future a potential therapeutic target during early carcinogenesis and ageing.

“This finding is particularly interesting, as there is actually a drug against integrin beta 3, called ‘cilengitide’, that averts one of the disadvantages of ageing in our model - inflammation. It does this without increasing cell proliferation, which is an advantage, as an increase in cell proliferation imposes a risk for cancer.”

The study was performed using human primary fibroblasts and fibroblast cells derived from young and old human donors.

The researchers discovered how integrin beta 3 was regulated and the signaling mechanism it uses to transmit senescence to surrounding cells. They could also see that integrin beta 3 was ‘upregulated’ in a subset of tissue from mice, confirming the importance of their results in two different species.

The study was funded by the Medical Research Council and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

More information

  • Find out more about our Regenerative Medicine MSc.
  • Research paper: ‘Integrin beta 3 regulates cellular senescence by activating the TGFβ pathway’. Valentina Rapisarda, Michela Borghesan, Veronica Miguela, Vesela Encheva, Ambrosius P Snijders, Amaia Lujambio and Ana O’Loghlen. Cell Reports 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.02.012.

(pictured first author, Meneka Kanagaratnam)


Congratulations to Blizard students for publishing a paper in the Journal of Physiology. The paper titled "Diuretic sensitive electroneutral Na+ movement and temperature effects on central axons” was produced by Meneka Kanagaratnam, Christopher Pendleton and Danilo Almeida Souza. The paper is about the temperature sensitivity of nerve fibres in the brain.

The Journal of Physiology publishes research that significantly advances our knowledge of physiology and increases our understanding of how the body functions in health, and disease. Published since 1878, this prestigious journal has published papers from over 40 Nobel laureates.

Well done on this achievement!