Submitted by GSK
Katie Pinnock, GlaxoSmithKline's Director of UK Corporate Contributions, said: "GlaxoSmithKline has awarded grants of more than Â£6 million through this annual medical research award programme in the past ten years. These awards were created to support under-funded areas of medical research such as those presented by this year's award winners. We hope that the 2005 awards will make a significant difference to the on-going work of these vital projects and facilitate new medical advances into these life threatening diseases."
Meningitis UK funds pioneering research projects across the UK, searching for a vaccine to eradicate meningitis and its associated diseases. Although great steps have been made in the fight against the disease with the introduction of the Meningitis C Vaccine, there is still no vaccine available to protect against the most common form of bacterial meningitis in the UK - Meningitis B.
The charity will use the GSK award to fund a project led by Dr Andrew Pollard from the Unversity of Oxford. He and his team will be studying the development of a new Meningitis B Vaccine candidate made from one of the common proteins found on the surface of the Meningitis B germ, using novel strategy that gets around the variability of Meningitis B germs.
Dr Pollard says: "Meningitis is a major killer of children throughout the world. The funding provided by GSK to Meningitis UK will allow our team to work on development of a new vaccine that will target the Group B strain and could save lives."
The British Liver Trust, founded in 1988 by a group of leading hepatologists and patients, is the only national liver disease charity for adults and aims to improve the lives of people suffering from liver disease through education, support and funding research. The Trust's award will support a new research project for the prevention and treatment of liver disease involving the control of the protein Nuclear Factor Kappa B (NF-қB). The project is a two-year collaboration between the liver biologist Professor Derek Mann and the chemist Professor Tom Brown, both world renowned experts in their fields, based at the University of Southampton, an established centre for the research and treatment of liver disease.
Over a two year period, the project will be modifying and testing a new technology that will target and control the protein NF-қB. While this protein normally helps fight infections, in the injured liver it promotes inflammation, fibrosis and cancer. Therapeutic control of NF-қB will benefit the majority of liver diseases.
Liver disease is a collective term for a range of diseases including hepatitis, cirrhosis and cancer. Together they have a major impact on the quality and length of life of a large number of individuals with as many as 6,000 people dying from cirrhosis of the liver in the UK each year. Many liver disease sufferers can not be treated with the two options currently available, surgery or antiviral treatment, and the third option, organ transplant is clearly limited by the number of donors.
Professor Mann comments: "This research (siRNA) will enable us to produce a drug that is not only a highly effective inhibitor of NF-қB, but will also lack the side-effects associated with more conventional drugs."
The Alzheimer's Research Trust was founded in 1992 to promote and raise funds for research into causes and cures of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. The award will go towards a major programme into Fronto-temporal dementia (FTD) which is frequently misdiagnosed and is as common as Alzheimer's disease in people aged 45 to 64.
Because of the distressing behavourial changes that result with this disease, caring for sufferers can be very challenging for family members. Earlier and accurate diagnosis can provide better support and ensure appropriate treatment, and allow patients to be involved in decisions when they are still capable of doing so.
"Whilst there are currently no specific treatments, there are several new drugs that may offer benefit with others on the horizon. Accurate diagnosis and the ability to predict and track disease progression are critical to the success of future clinical trials. With this GSK grant we are able to invest in long term follow up of patients which is critically important in understanding how these diseases develop and how we might track the effects of potential treatments." states Professor Martin Rossor, Professor of Clinical Neurology who together with Professor Nick Fox is running this FTD programme as part of the Dementia Research Group.
The Samantha Dickson Research Trust set up some nine years ago to raise funds for research into adult and child brain tumours will use the award for a project being led by Professor V.P.Collins in Cambridge looking into two common solid tumours of the central nervous system (CNS) in children, pilocytic astrocytoma and ependymomas.
This study will focus on two of the three commonest solid CNS tumours in children (as opposed to leukaemias, cancers of the blood). Studies of the DNA in many different adult tumours have led to new ways of identifying tumours earlier, and with greater certainty, and more recently to the development of new specific treatments that do not harm normal cells. Present treatments for brain tumours generally damage the developing normal brain cells in the child.
Taking the DNA from the 94 patients with these two types of tumours, Professor Collins and his researchers will be able to ascertain what abnormalities are present. Thanks to the new array-CGH technology, researchers will be able to easily examine 3000 regions of a tumour cell's DNA at the same time and understand the genetic sequence they are studying and the genes that are localized there.
Professor Collins explains, "In some cases it can be very difficult to make the diagnosis. If we knew the genes that were involved in the development of these tumours this could help us identify these tumours with greater certainty and improve treatment."
In the nine years since the Samantha Dickson Research Trust was set up by Neil and Angela Dickson following the death of their sixteen year old daughter Samantha, it has become the biggest brain tumour charity and the largest single funder of laboratory- based brain tumour research in the UK, and offers vital support link for patients suffering with a brain tumour, their families and carers.
Notes to editors:
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical and healthcare companies and is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. GSK has a comprehensive global programme of community partnerships focused on improving health and education. In the UK, GSK supports over 70 charitable organizations in health, science education, the arts and the environment. www.gsk.com/community.
This year's award winners contact details:
The British Liver Trust:
Contact telephone number: 0870 770 8028;
Alzheimer's Research Trust:
Contact telephone number: 01223 843899
Samantha Dickson Research Trust:
Contact telephone number: 0845 130 9733
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical and healthcare companies and is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. GSK has a comprehensive global programme of community partnerships focused on improving health and education. In the UK, GSK supports over 70 charitable organizations in health, science education, the arts and the environment.
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