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A groundbreaking laboratory services centre which analyses the very molecules of life for research into topics as diverse as marine biology, Ebola, cancer, neurological diseases, bovine TB and Down’s Syndrome, has launched at Plymouth University.

The Plymouth University Systems Biology Centre provides services and support to scientists analysing DNA, RNA and proteins within cells and molecules.

The Centre sits within the University’s School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences but works with other departments in the University, including Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and the the School of Biological and Marine Sciences.

The team within the Centre also provide services to and collaborate with external organisations on a regular basis.

Work within the Systems Biology Centre sees scientists analysing DNA, RNA or proteins to identify which particular molecules are present within a sample. The scientists track the sequences of such molecules to, for example, identify particular proteins which may be biomarkers (or indicators) for a certain disease.

The Centre represents a significant investment by Plymouth University in state-of-the-art genomics and proteomics equipment. It has core service laboratories that house genomics, transcriptomics, mass spectrometry and chromatography equipment.

Within the Centre are dedicated technical research specialists and first-class bioinformatics expertise.

Professor Neil Avent, Head of the School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences and whose own work around the diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome is benefiting from the services provided by the Centre, said: “Today’s launch is very exciting for us. Having such facilities within the University means we can support collaborations between academic partners, and useful links with external customers, beyond the University. Internally, it allows our scientists to expand their research, stay at the forefront of international endeavour, and secure more grants for their work. It is also hugely attractive to internationally-renowned scientists who may wish to join the University. Not only are we contributing to the health and well-being of people around the world, we are also contributing to the wealth of the South West region.”

Today’s launch will see presentations from key research scientists across Plymouth, from Plymouth University, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust and Biovault, as well as an exhibition of the Centre’s commercial and research partners and customers.