CRB and Durham University launch medical research project

To investigate synthetic ways of producing human chemokines family of proteins

Cambridge Research Biochemicals (CRB), a UK manufacturer of peptides and antibodies for use in pharmaceutical and biotechnology research, has teamed up with Durham University to carry out important health research.

CRB, which is based in Billingham, Teesside, is carrying out the work as part of a 12-month Knowledge Transfer Account (KTA) scheme funded by the EPSRC.

A Fellowship has been created to enable Ehmke Pohl, a structural biologist in the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Durham, and Steven Cobb (Department of Chemistry), a specialist in peptide synthesis to commercial partner CRB, to investigate synthetic ways of producing the human chemokines family of proteins. Chemokines play a key role in the human immune response, which makes them useful for research into heart disease, cancer and allergies.

The work is focused on the monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1 or CCL2), which plays a major role in artherosclerosis (‘furring of the arteries’) and related conditions.

‘Collaborating closely with CRB not only gives us the opportunity to develop a better understanding of the requirements in industry but allows us, via the KTA fellow, to acquire invaluable knowledge and skills,’ said Pohl.

Emily Humphrys, commercial director of CRB, said: ‘This work will allow us to develop a greater understanding of the subject, which helps us but also helps improve the education and training of chemistry students at the University. There is a renewed interest within the pharmaceutical industry to develop peptide-based drugs and thus the demand for highly trained peptide chemists is increasing. Our project will help further that process.’