After 25 years of meeting our researchers from across the UK, and offering that personal touch from the Rosetrees Trust, John Samuels is now retired. John’s dedication to his role as Medical Research Consultant has seen him attend hundreds of researcher meetings over the years, which has also ensured that the Rosetrees Trust continues to support the best in medical research.
John’s knowledge and approach has been passed to all members of the Rosetrees Trust team. We will be maintaining our personal touch with all of our researchers, and our community.
Some of John’s other passions in life are travel, art, and wine. He hopes to use his retirement to further explore these with his wife. He will remain in close contact with the Rosetrees Trust team, and keep in touch with the researchers that he has met over the years. We wish John well for the future.
Professor Molly Stevens, a member of our Scientific Advisory Panel and a Rosetrees Trust-funded researcher, has recently received more than €600,000 in funding for a project that aims to develop an emergency COVID-19 ultrasensitive point of care diagnostic. This project is being supported by the Rosetrees Trust, as well as two other funding sources. These are the EU’s European Institute of Innovation and Technology, where Molly’s team was the only UK-based group to receive funding from EIT Health in its Rapid Response initiative, and Imperial’s COVID-19 Response Fund.
Delighted to announce that a member of our Scientific Advisory Panel, Professor Molly Stevens, was recently elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, amongst 60 exceptional scientists from around the world. Professor Molly Stevens has been honoured for ground-breaking advances in the engineering of bio-inspired materials for regenerative medicine and biosensing.
Molly has received Rosetrees Trust funding since 2009, and we are very proud to support her innovative and highly translational research.
Rosetrees researcher profile: Professor Helen Fletcher and Hannah Painter, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Who Rosetrees Trust is funding
Tuberculosis (TB) is a leading cause of death from a single infectious agent. In 2018, 1.5 million deaths were reported and 10 million individuals developed TB active disease. This high mortality rate is largely due to the complexities of diagnosis and access to quality care for many. Multi- and extensively-drug-resistant TB remains a great global concern. The Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine is currently the only clinically approved vaccine against TB. The vaccine provides some protection against severe forms of TB in children; however, protection against pulmonary TB in adults varies dramatically (between 0 and 80%). Despite recent breakthroughs in the TB vaccine pipeline, development and validation of TB vaccines remains slow, and understanding of the host immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent of TB, remains poor. Extensive preclinical evaluation of candidate TB vaccines is a time-consuming and expensive process. To this end, TB vaccines are typically tested against laboratory strains of Mtb, despite reported variations in response to infection with different clinical isolates of Mtb in animal models.
Professor Helen Fletcher’s research at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine focuses on TB vaccines and immune correlates of risk. In a recent review in Seminars in Immunology, Professor Fletcher highlights the growing interest in whole systems approaches to the identification of correlates of protection and progression to TB disease.
This project aims to accelerate the development of effective vaccines for protection against Mtb.
Hannah Painter said: “Tools which enable in-depth analysis of vaccine efficacy, as well as the underlying immune mechanisms associated with vaccination, are urgently required to improve and inform the TB vaccine pipeline.”
How Rosetrees Trust have supported Professor Helen Fletcher and Hannah Painter
Professor Helen Fletcher received Rosetrees Trust funding in 2016, to support Hannah Painter’s PhD which is due to complete later this year.
What the outcomes are of Rosetrees Trust-funded research from Professor Helen Fletcher and Hannah Painter
Professor Helen Fletcher and Hannah Painter have been successful in developing an ex vivo method to evaluate the efficacy of vaccines against diverse clinical isolates of Mtb in the mouse model. The use of the mycobacterial growth inhibition assay (MGIA) as a preclinical method to assess vaccine-induced protection was previously established in mouse spleen cells. The assay aims to provide a shorter and cheaper method of testing potential vaccine efficacy, generating data which may aid the design of traditional animal infection studies in a more cost-effective and informed manner.
The current work, published in Scientific Reports, has optimised the MGIA for use in both lung and spleen and streamlined the capacity of the assay for head-to-head testing of multiple Mtb strains or vaccines.
In addition, where variations in vaccine efficacy have been observed in the MGIA, flow cytometry and RNA-seq analysis have been performed to gain further insight into the mechanisms behind these observations.
Rosetrees Trust support on this project has helped the team secure further grants, including an MRC-BBSRC VALIDATE Pump Prime award, and an MRC National Productivity Fund placement award. Furthermore, this grant has supported PhD student, Hannah Painter, who has secured funding to continue to work on this project.
Written by: Dr. Rebecca Downing, Professor Helen Fletcher and Hannah Painter
We hope that our community of researchers and partners are
keeping well at this difficult time.
We encourage all our researchers to get in touch and share
their plans with us. We want to continue supporting our projects where we can
and we would ask you to respond to project update requests with as much
information as possible so that we can make decisions without delay.
Keep well and we look forward to the entire research
community returning to work and identifying answers to important questions.
Rosetrees researcher profile:Dr. Stuart Rushworth and Professor Kristian Bowles, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia
Who Rosetrees Trust is funding
Current treatment options for patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), including curative cytotoxic chemotherapy, are limited by their intensity and side effects. They are most commonly used to treat younger, fitter patients, but this is a disease mainly of older people. Therefore, in addition to these existing treatment options, patients that are older and less fit would require alternative therapy options that can be better-tolerated. Even in younger patients treatments need to be improved to increase survival and reduce side effects.
by the Norwich team and others shows that there is a high dependence of AML on
external signals from bone marrow stromal cells (BMSC) for its survival. So, tumour
cell-to-cell interactions and the microenvironment represent a potential target
for novel treatment strategies.
Previously, Dr. Stuart Rushworth and Professor Kristian Bowles and the team at Norwich Medical School have investigated how AML survives the cellular challenges of its rapid growth and chemotherapy. With Rosetrees support the team further investigated what makes the bone marrow microenvironment, in which the leukaemia grows, so important in this process. The aim of the work is to ultimately exploit these interactions between the blood cancer and the cells that surround it, in order to identify a novel tumour-specific treatment strategy that can be used for all patients with AML patients.
How Rosetrees Trust have supported Dr. Stuart Rushworth and Professor Kristian Bowles
The team in Norwich received their first Rosetrees Trust grant in 2015. This project funded PhD student Chris Marlein who completed his degree in the Autumn of 2018.
What the outcomes are of Rosetrees Trust-funded research from Dr. Stuart Rushworth and Professor Kristian Bowles
The team, including Dr. Rushworth, Professor Bowles, and Chris Marlein, the PhD researcher on this project, have identified new key interactions between non-malignant cells of the bone marrow microenvironment and leukaemia cells. Furthermore, they discovered how these processes support the energy requirements of the cancer cells.
AML cells require large amounts of energy to grow and survive chemotherapy. It had not been fully understood how, and to what extent, the bone marrow microenvironment supports the energy requirements of the leukaemia cells. The team in Norwich have shown that functional mitochondria (energy generating organelles) are transferred, via nanotubes, from non-malignant stromal cells to the malignant cell. This process significantly enhances the growth capacity of the cancer cell, whilst at the same time providing chemoresistance. This output from this Rosetrees-funded work has been reported in a number of publications, including the following Cancer Research, Leukemia, Blood and Haematologica (Epub ahead of print).
Rosetrees Trust support on this project has helped the team secure further funding from the Wellcome Trust, the MRC and the Big C, totalling almost £1 million. Furthermore, Dr. Rushworth has led expansion and development of the lab as a whole, and Dr. Chris Marlein has launched his academic career.
Written by: Dr. Rebecca Downing, Dr. Stuart Rushworth, and Professor Kristian Bowles