[Press & Publications] FROM OUTER SPACE TO INNER SPACE: Black Holes to cancer tumours

January 2000

No 9

The University of Leicester has invested in a new facility that aims to bring the benefits of space research to the fields of medicine and biology.

A new Bioimaging Unit has been created and the post of Bioimaging Research Fellow established in order that the University's world-class achievements in astronomy and planetary science can deliver breakthroughs in health care.

The University of Leicester has one of the biggest space research groups in Europe and there is enormous potential to use the innovative technologies developed at Leicester for industrial and biological applications.

Dr John Lees, who is the first person within the University to hold the Fellowship, said the work done in the Space Research Centre, along with others at the University, had resulted in a wide range of academic, medical and industrial links.

Said Dr Lees: "The Bioimaging Unit will act as a focus for the transfer of technologies, developed for X-ray astronomy, to medical and life sciences. It will provide the life science departments at the University of Leicester with a strong technical advantage in their research.

"The Unit will carry on pioneering work that Professor George Fraser and I began in 1995 at this University. We used systems, developed as part of the Chandra X-ray satellite, for analysis of a wide range of biological samples - including cancer tumours."

Funding for the new Unit, which also includes a full-time technician, has come from the Senate Development Fund and collaboration with the Medical Research Council's Toxicology Unit at the University, as well as Bayer Pharmaceuticals.

Dr Lees added: "We are developing new instrumentation for biological applications and this has brought together experts from different departments in the University, including the Centre for Immunological Mechanisms in Disease and the Centre for Mechanisms of Human Toxicity.

"Our collaborations have led to a search for more effective Alzheimer's disease therapeutics as well as a project with Queen's Medical Centre Nottingham into bladder cancer treatment. There is also commercial potential from development of our detector technologies."

Dr Lees added that collaboration between physicists and biologists is a growth area of great potential and was proving to be of international importance.

For more information, please contact Dr Lees on 0116 252 5519; email: lee@star.le.ac.uk.

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Last updated: 20 January 2000 15:34
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