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X- Ray Crystallography

It's been described as 'the breakthrough science': the study of crystals and their structure. And it's led to some of the most significant scientific findings of the last century such as revealing the structure of penicillin and DNA. This year is the International Year of Crystallography and the centenary of the discovery of X-ray diffraction. So Science Cafe decided to take a closer look at its history and achievements.

Adam Walton is joined by leading Welsh Chemist Sir John Meurig Thomas and science writer and broadcaster Georgina Ferry, who talk him through the personalitlies and breakthroughs in crystallography. Sir John has written widely about the remarkable Bragg father-and-son team whose pioneering work revolutionised our understanding of solids. Georgina Ferry has written the biographies of two important crystallographers; Max Perutz and Dorothy Hodgkin.We also take a trip to the Cardiff laboratory of Dr Pierre Rizkallah, where the technique is being used today to find new drugs to treat cancer.

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Diamond: Britain's answer to the Large Hadron Collider

At the Diamond particle accelerator in Oxfordshire, experiments using beams of light 10,000 times brighter than the sun have implications for the fight against cancer, improved air safety and energy efficiency.

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The T-cell receptor was engineered to bind to cancerous cells with a 30,000-fold improved affinity

Using technology developed by partners, Immunocore. Molecular visualisation using X-rays (the technique used to solve the structure of DNA) enabled them to understand how this molecule targets melanoma cells with high specificity and affinity.

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Hi-jacking’ the body’s killer cells could help fight cancer

Hijacking’ cells in the body that normally attack common infections to target cancer instead could offer the body a ready-made army against the killer disease, a team led by Oxford-based biotech company Immunocore Limited and Cardiff University researchers have uncovered.

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Scientists shed new light on link between ‘killer cells’ and diabetes

Killer T-cells in the human body which help protect us from disease can inadvertently destroy cells that produce insulin, new research has uncovered.

The study provides the first evidence of this mechanism in action and could offer new understanding of the cause of Type 1 diabetes.

Professor Andy Sewell, an expert in human T-cells from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine worked alongside diabetes experts from King’s College London to better understand the role of T-cells in the development of Type 1 diabetes.

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Interview with Discovery Magazine

Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Award for Dr David Cole

Dave Cole has been awarded 5 years worth of funding (£771,080) to study the structural and biophysical parameters that govern T-cell receptor binding to peptide-major histocompatibility complex class II, and how this interaction can be modified in order to develop therapies and enhanced diagnostic tools directed at CD4+ T helper cell mediated immunity.

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Could T-cells hold the key to curing cancer? (Wales Online)

Health Wales is highlighting the work of Welsh Crucible researchers – the cream of Welsh research talent. Dr David Cole explains his research and why T-cells could hold the key to curing cancer.

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Professor Sewell speaks at Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation meeting

The University’s latest research into Type 1 diabetes will be outlined by a Cardiff scientist as part of a local conference.

Professor Andy Sewell of the School of Medicine will speak at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Diabetes UK Cymru Open Meeting on 21 November 2009.

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£3m BBSRC Award

Research into immunity and infection at Cardiff University has been given a multi-million pound boost with a major award from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

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Seeing how we see cancer

A molecular image revealing the interaction between skin cancer cells and T-cells – the cells which protect our body against disease - has been produced by the School of Medicine.

NEW - Molecular structure of the best-studied human cancer T cell antigen revealed

We have used X-ray crystallography to determine the structure of the best ever studied human cancer antigen in complex with a human T-cell receptor. This 'antigen' molecule is upregulated on the surface of human melanoma cells and enables killer T-cells to identify and eliminate these cancerous cells using their T-cell receptor. We anticipate wide interest in this structure as it is only the second human cancer/T-cell receptor complex ever solved. Our T-cells are really designed to eliminate 'foreign molecules' and they are crucial for the elimination of pathogens. T-cells perform less well at eliminating cancer as cancer cells are derived from our own tissue and pose the immune system a greater challenge. A link to the paper, published online at The Journal of Biological Chemistry can be found below:

Cole DK, Yuan F, Rizkallah PJ, Miles JJ, Gostick E, Price DA, Gao GF, Jakobsen BK, Sewell AK.
Germline-governed recognition of a cancer epitope by an immunodominant human T-cell receptor.
Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2009 July. Ahead of Print.

Visualising cancer interactions

A molecular image revealing the interaction between skin cancer cells and T-cells – the cells which protect our body against disease - has been produced by the School of Medicine.

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An Immunologists 10 commandments (Immunology News)

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Advances HIV

Download the Spring 2009 edition of Advances - The Journals for Science, Engineering and Technology in Wales

TOP STORY - Bionic T-cells kill HIV

We have recently published a groundbreaking study in Nature Medicine that utilises engineered T-cells which can target and kill all natural escape variants of HIV in vitro. This discovery has attracted worldwide interests and has been covered by a number of mainstream publications and news broadcasters!! Links can be found below:

A2 Mel