University of Bath licences detection kit for sugar-damaged proteins

The University of Bath today announced it had entered a licensing agreement with Abcam, an innovator in reagents and tools, to make a new fluorescent detection probe kit for researchers globally. The product developed by scientists at the University of Bath, will help researchers quickly and efficiently detect proteins damaged by sugar, which are associated with many degenerative diseases.

Sugar damage, known as protein glycation, has been implicated in various age-related diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Sugar molecules react with amino acids in proteins which affects their shape, function and stability and this can interfere with crucial processes in our bodies. The creators of the detection kit hope these products will help advance understanding into the damage that sugar can do to proteins and the role of this process in many diseases.

Prof Jean van den Elsen in the lab

The fluorescent probes used in the kit were developed by structural biologist Professor Jean van den Elsen from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry and Supramolecular Chemist Professor Tony James from the Department of Chemistry who found a way to specifically tag sugar-modified proteins with fluorescent compounds, which can then be observed using inexpensive standard equipment and methods in laboratories. The test has been validated with human, insect and mouse samples.

Professor van den Elsen said: “We are delighted to have Abcam on board who will accelerate access to these fundamental tools by the international scientific community. We would like to thank the University of Bath Research & Innovation Services for their help with commercialising our technology.”

Professor James added: “We hope that these simple high-quality tools will allow researchers to explore the factors involved in the progression of diseases associated with protein glycation. Leading to earlier stage disease diagnostics as well as effective therapeutics.”

John Baker, Senior VP of Portfolio & Business Development at Abcam, said: “We work with leading industry and academic partners to ensure researchers have the highly validated tools they need to achieve their research goals saving them valuable time and resources. We’re excited about our partnership with the University of Bath and the advances these products will make in the understanding of disease.”

Other colleagues involved in developing and testing the probes were Drs Marta Pereira Morais, Julia Mackay, Marjorie Gibbon and  Omar Kassaar from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry, and Drs Suying Xu and Stephen Flower from the Department of Chemistry.

The product is now available from the Abcam website and its authorised distributors.

The methodology has already been used at University of Bath, including in a study which found a molecular link between the blood sugar glucose and Alzheimer's disease.

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