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£5million grant to speed up DNA analysis towards personalised medicines

Published: 
20 January 2003

Chemists and physicists at the University of Southampton and University of Cambridge have been jointly awarded £5million for pioneering research that could revolutionise biological and medicinal science.

It could lead to future life-saving drugs being individually-tailored to each person's unique DNA for maximum effect.

Research studies leading to the identification of specific genes responsible for particular disease states could be completed in months rather than years, speeding up drug development. Scientists could complete genetic tests on individuals and families within days rather than years.

Researchers want to develop a fundamentally new method of sequencing, screening and synthesizing DNA at a rate thousands of times faster than existing methods. A crucial part of this new approach is the application of magnetic information technology. The aim is to be able to sequence more than four billion bases (individual pieces of DNA information) in less than a day on one instrument.

The project, led by Professor Mark Bradley, Director of the Combinatorial Chemistry Centre, is one of seven to receive a share of £21 million funding from the Research Councils UK Basic Technology Programme.

Professor Bradley said: "At present medicines are designed to treat whole populations. Their effect on individuals varies. Some will benefit greatly, others will not. We hope to develop the technology where an individual's genetic profile would allow personalised medicines that are guaranteed to be effective."

The five year project, in association with the University of Cambridge, will involve 20 staff at the University of Southampton.

Notes for editors

The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £235 million.

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