Structural Biology STP

Moving science towards the clinic

Intro

We believe that great translational research depends on great people with different skillsets and a range of training and expertise.

This means that complex scientific questions can be tackled from different perspectives, and by people from different disciplines and sectors. It means that knowledge can be shared in all directions: industrial scientists and clinicians can learn from academic scientists and vice versa. It also supports scientists to have varied careers spanning academic, industrial and clinical settings.

Collaborations with clinical scientists through our university partners and other institutions give our researchers the opportunity to develop their ideas into patient-centred research and clinical studies. 

Discovery research from the Crick is helping to develop new treatments, currently being trialled in patients, for diseases from cancer to the novel coronavirus. And as we increase our understanding of the biology behind disease, we’re able to explore new ways of diagnosing patients, tracking disease progression, improving prognosis prediction and understand of which treatments are likely to be most effective.

examples

Case study

Visualising leukaemia

Group leader Dominque Bonnet and postdoc Diana Passaro crossed paths with MRI specialist Bernard Siow at a seminar at the Crick. They teamed up to develop an imaging technique that measures new leukaemia indicators using existing MRI machines. The technique images patients’ bone marrow and could give patients a more accurate prognosis of their disease.

A grant from the Crick’s i2i (idea to innovation) scheme, funded by the MRC, allowed the Crick team to hire a new MRI specialist, Ana da Silva Gomes, to work on the project, as well as partner with a healthcare consultancy.

Through the team’s work with the consultancy, they have established links with haematologists and imaging consultants at Barts NHS Trust and will shortly be launching clinical trials as part of the CLEVAR study.

Case study

COVASE

Patients with COVID-19 are being given the cystic fibrosis drug ‘Dornase alfa’ to determine if it can help improve survival by reducing excess inflammation in the lungs, as part of a trial co-led by UCL and the Francis Crick Institute.

During a viral infection, a group of white blood cells called neutrophils release neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) which are extra-cellular meshes whose primary role is to trap and kill bacteria. Researchers believe the immune system in COVID-19 patients is over-active and an abundance of NETs could be causing excess inflammation (hyperinflammation) and contributing to the onset of pneumonia and severe damage to the lungs.

The COVASE trial is based on research by Dr Venizelos Papayannopoulos at the Crick, and is funded by LifeArc, a medical research charity.

Read more about the COVASE study.