Monday 9 February 2015

SRCs: What’s so good about them?

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust has just announced it's two newest Strategic Research Centres. Senior Research Manager, Dr Anoushka de Almeida-Carragher explains why they're so great!

Our Strategic Research Centre (SRC) programme is one of the main initiatives which have come about following the launch of our Research Strategy,
'Investing in Research to Change Lives', a couple of years ago. SRCs are virtual centres of excellence made up of a unique consortia of scientists in the UK and overseas, using their wide knowledge and expertise to crack serious problems in cystic fibrosis (CF). SRCs also bring together established academics from different disciplines like chemistry and neuroscience; this much-needed extra set of skills, into CF research, is of profound importance. Not only do SRCs give the opportunity to partner up with pharmaceutical companies, thereby facilitating translating bench science to bedside clinical practice, but they also inspire the next generation of bright, young scientists to focus their research in CF, thus paving the way to a future of global research excellence in CF.

We have recently awarded two world class SRC programmes. Dr David Sheppard at Bristol University will be leading one of them. His multidisciplinary team is made up of renowned scientists from the UK, France and The Netherlands. The team will perform an innovative series of basic science studies which will provide an in-depth understanding of what is going wrong in the cells of CF patients. Specifically, his research aims to promote the development of new drugs to treat the most common cause of CF called F508del.  CF is caused by defects in the protein CFTR that forms a gated pathway for chloride, one part of salt, to cross cell borders lining ducts and tubes throughout the body.  The F508del defect prevents CFTR assembling correctly within the cell.  As a result, few CFTR proteins reach the cell border.  Those that do are fragile; they do not transport chloride properly and they quickly fall apart, losing altogether the ability to do useful work.  The team will investigate the structure of CFTR and learn how it is affected by the F508del defect.  Aided by this knowledge, they will then go on to search for chemicals that repair all the faults in CFTR caused by the F508del defect, so that CFTR is correctly made and delivered to the cell border to form a stable gated pathway for chloride movement.  Thus, the results will inform the development of new drug therapies to benefit the majority of people living with CF.

The second SRC will be led by Prof Di Bilton and her colleagues at Imperial College, London (The Royal Brompton Hospital). Her research team is made up of respiratory medicine experts, epidemiologists, medical statisticians and health economists, widely spread throughout the UK and in Canada. The project will enhance the use of the UK CF Registry data (containing information for over 99% of the UK CF population) so that better use of the information can be made to help answer important CF-related questions. When the data is analysed by cutting edge techniques, the team will be able to identify therapies and make recommendations regarding best use of therapies at critical stages and planning of care, for the increasing adult CF population.

Later this week, we will be inviting researchers to apply for a SRC grant, for the next round. This is a great opportunity for world class research academics in CF research, and other related disciplines, to ‘bang heads’ and work together to answer the critical questions we face in the field of CF, today

Find out more about our existing SRCs at

1 comment:

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