A new Life Sciences Industry Liaison Lab for Canterbury Christ Church University was officially opened at Discovery Park last week.
The new lab has brought science back to the park’s Building 500 and will allow the university’s students to gain useful experience in the industry. It will also give postgraduate students and staff the chance to undertake cutting edge research, working directly with industry on projects that address specific challenges and provide research that has contemporary relevance to today’s society.
A variety of research projects with the university’s PhD students are already underway, such as using tarantula venom to help find a treatment for pancreatic cancer, and looking at ways of improving IVF success rates and embryo freezing techniques in pigs and cattle.
With regards to the tarantula venom, Dr Carol Trim is researching how the venom could help find a treatment for pancreatic cancer, which has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers. Working with Venomtech, who are a past success of Locate in Kent and are based at Discovery Park, Dr Trim is hoping to find which venom molecules could block a ‘receptor’ in a cancer cell. Blocking the receptor in a cancer cell means that it possible to stop the cell from growing and developing more cancerous cells. Venom is already known to be successful in blocking receptors for other cancers and synthetic venom has already been used successfully in cancer drugs.
The second research project involves Dr Katie Fowler who is an expert in non-human embryology. She is working with Genea (another past success of Locate in Kent) on improving in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) success rates and embryo freezing techniques in agricultural animals, predominately in pigs.
Dr Fowler hopes that by improving the fertilisation process and getting a more reliable outcome and higher success rate for animal embryology, the process will be implemented by agricultural companies, which will result in frozen embryos being transported around the world rather than livestock.
Dr Simon Harvey, Director of Life Sciences at Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “The University is proud to support research that has contemporary relevance to today’s society and we are delighted to be entering into this exciting new phase for Christ Church Life Sciences at Discovery Park.
“The Life Sciences Industry Liaison Lab will not only benefit our research projects and partnerships with local companies and industry, but will also give our students the experience of working within an industry setting and help to build the skills needed to work in the sector.
Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, Vice-Chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church, said: “Today’s official opening is the celebration of a partnership between the University, Discovery Park, local authorities and businesses. It is a leading example of how we, as a University with deep-rooted connections to our region, should be looking to develop through collaborations and partnerships such as the Life Sciences Industry Liaison Lab.
“The lab will ensure that we continue to make a contribution to the economics of the region in which we work and serve, as well as provide remarkable opportunities for our students and staff to develop their skills and understanding of the industry.”
Discovery Park, which is based at the former Pfizer site at Sandwich, is Europe’s leading science and technology park. Providing world class facilities, a host of international companies from the life science, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, science and technology sectors are now based on the site.
Paul Barber, Managing Director of Discovery Park, added: “In Discovery Park we have created the right environment for business and education institutions to work together and flourish. We always thought that having education on-site, and now postgraduate education and research, would be part of the DNA of Discovery Park. The provision that the lab offers to our companies is already making a positive impact.”
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