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Diabetes pioneer to head new £3m BRC research focus

One of the world's leading biochemical scientists has moved to Manchester to head an innovative £3 million facility dedicated to developing new drugs to prevent or treat diabetes, dementia, heart disease and metabolic conditions.GarthCooper

Professor Garth Cooper has joined the Biomedical Research Centre and become Professor of Discovery and Experimental Medicine at The University of Manchester.  In his new role he is Director of the Centre for Advanced Discovery and Experimental Therapeutics (CADET), based at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

A New Zealander, Prof Cooper discovered the hormone amylin while studying for his doctorate in the UK.  He went on to invent amylin-replacement therapy for diabetes and founded the NASDAQ-listed US company Amylin Pharmaceuticals.  He has moved to Manchester from the University of Auckland, where he will retain a part-time position.

Prof Cooper's research has led to major advances in the understanding of how diabetes and related conditions affect the body.  He has published over 200 articles in leading journals, as well as being named as inventor on more than 40 US and European patents.  He is currently working on a drug which will remove toxins that affect the organs of diabetes patients, allowing these organs to regenerate and heal.  The drug has received fast-track status from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Welcoming his new colleague, BRC director Prof Graeme Black said:  "This is a hugely important appointment for Manchester, as Garth and his team bring a combination of world class scientific expertise and entrepreneurial skills to the city.  The ability to harness new technologies in order to develop new treatments in the field of diabetes will be extremely powerful and very exciting. I have no doubt that the new approaches will have a wide benefit, not only for our patients seen locally but also both nationally and internationally."

Centre for Advanced Discovery and Experimental Therapeutics

The new CADET facility houses state-of-the-art mass spectrometry equipment for analysing tissue and blood samples provided by patients.  It was set up with a £1.5 million capital investment by the National Institute for Health Research, while £1.4 million of funding from the Northwest Regional Development Agency helped to purchase additional equipment.  The Biomedical Research Centre has also funded 16 new jobs at CADET.

Researchers working with Prof Cooper will carry out large scale studies of the proteins (proteomics) and chemical processes (metabolomics) in tissues and blood, to help improve the way major diseases are diagnosed and treated.  CADET is believed to be the first UK facility to combine a tissue bank, proteomics and metabolomics laboratories all on one site.  It also has a team of bioinformatics experts who analyse all the data produced in experiments to identify patterns and trends which could lead to new methods of diagnosis and treatment.

"CADET is more than just a facility, it's a different philosophy and approach to finding out what causes diseases, how they progress in the body and how we can prevent or treat them," said Prof Cooper.  "This was the major attraction for me in coming to Manchester, where CADET is the link between laboratory scientists at the University and patients on the hospital wards.

"The Biomedical Research Centre has achieved a significant amount in only three years.  It's the ideal place to develop new approaches to predicting and preventing disease, and also to pursue techniques to repair and regenerate organs such as the heart, kidneys, arteries and eyes which may have been damaged by diseases like diabetes."