• Question: is ur type of research developed around helping people?

    Asked by naqvint01 to Richard, Prateek, Liz, Jim, Amelia on 13 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Amelia Markey

      Amelia Markey answered on 12 Jun 2011:

      In a way, yes. There are quite a lot of devices like mine that are being made for different purposes.

      There’s one that was made in Manchester. It’s called Genedrive (http://www.epistem.co.uk/genedrive.asp). Hopefully this can be used to do really fast testing, from a small drop of your blood, in your doctors office so you don’t have to take a lot of blood and send it off to a lab which takes ages and costs lots of money.

      Hopefully you’ll start to see more things like this. It’s also really important for countries like Africa where tests need to be done quickly and as cheaply as posssible (often by people who aren’t trained nurses or doctors).

    • Photo: Jim Caryl

      Jim Caryl answered on 12 Jun 2011:

      Yes, I’m interested in ensuring that we can continue to treat bacterial infections with antibiotic medicine. Many bacteria that cause infections are able to resist the killing effect of antibiotic medicine. In my lab we study how bacteria become resistant (and how they hang on to their resistance) – we study it so we can make them do the opposite. We work with the people who actually make antibiotics, so they are very interested in our findings.

    • Photo: Richard Badge

      Richard Badge answered on 12 Jun 2011:


      The kind of science that I do is sometimes called “basic research” – that’s not because its really simple, but just that understanding the basics can often help build up our ideas in ways that might ultimately help people.

      Having said that there was some interesting research a few years ago involving using human jumping genes for “gene therapy”. This is where scientists have identified a broken gene that causes a disease, and then try to re-introduce a working gene carried by a piece of DNA called a “vector”. These vectos are often built from viruses, which means they sometimes cause an immune response, or can insert the working genes in another gene, breaking that one too.

      The advantage of using our own jumping genes as vectors is that our immune system ignores them, and they jump only once (reducing the chance of breaking something else). This research is at an early stage (known as “proof of principle” – showing it works) but it does show promise…

      If you are interested in finding out more the abstract (or summary) of the paper is here : http://www.nature.com/mt/journal/v9/n1s/abs/mt2004903a.html


    • Photo: Lizzard O'Day

      Lizzard O'Day answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      That’s why I became a scientist. In truth- my older brother had cancer when he was young. And the better part of my childhood was spent visiting him in the hospital. Thankfully he recovered and is doing amazing now. However, it was a really scary time for him, for me, for my whole family. There isn’t anything else in the world I can think of that is more worthwhile than dedicating my research towards helping to find a cure to cancer.

    • Photo: Prateek Buch

      Prateek Buch answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      Although my work is 100% based in the lab, the aim is to develop treatments we can use in the clinic to help people who are blind. I work in a team of both scientists and medical doctors, the latter take the research we do in the lab and try to apply it to patients to help them see better – so yes, I am studying ways of helping those who can’t see for various reasons…!