NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Funding for Aberdeen research using shark immune systems to develop drugs

Shark
Image caption Sharks are one of the most ancient species on the planet

A team developing anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory drugs from research based on the immune systems of sharks has received a £1.5m funding boost.

The University of Aberdeen has received the financial backing to develop man-made proteins closely related to structures found in sharks.

Sharks are one of the most ancient species on the planet.

Scottish Enterprise and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council awarded the money.

Structures called variable novel antigen receptors (VNARs) are found in the shark immune system.

'Huge potential'

The team has produced more than 10bn of these molecules, and say their drug library is the "equivalent to having access to 10,000 sharks without needing to keep a single animal in an aquarium".

Professor Andy Porter said: "We are excited and delighted with the support we have received from Scottish Enterprise and BBSRC for our research."

Prof Stephen Logan, senior vice-principal for the University of Aberdeen, said: "This is ambitious and exciting research which will help build on Aberdeen's reputation as Scotland's commercial capital for drug discovery."

Julia Brown, director of foresighting at Scottish Enterprise, added: "The technology involved has huge potential and the challenge now is to help translate this into a successful company, located in Scotland."

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