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Award for Disease-Fighting ‘Seaweed Drug’

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A drug developed from seaweed that helps fight off infection has picked up a prize for innovation.

Researchers discovered that alginates – found in seaweed – can combat multi-drug resistant infections. Working with the AlgiPharma, a team led by Professor David Thomas at Cardiff University’s School of Dentistry showed how alginates could disrupt the formation of microbial biofilms.

The project has won the Medical Innovation Award at this year’s Cardiff University Innovation and Impact Awards.

Professor Thomas said:

“Our research allowed us to derive material from the natural world with powerful abilities to modify bacterial behaviour, making them more susceptible to antibiotic treatment, and to improve the properties of mucus in patients with lung disease.”

The project began with a small grant from AlgiPharma in 2007 for exploratory microbiology studies, but developed into a nine-year collaboration between Cardiff University’s Advanced Therapies Group (ATG), AlgiPharma and Cardiff & Vale University Health Board.

The ATG’s collaborative network helped attract researchers with expertise in specialist areas, paving the way for human clinical studies across the EU and Scandinavia. The project has continued to attract significant research funding, produced a large volume of leading academic papers and received national and international awards.

Phil Rye, R&D Director at AlgiPharma, said:

“The collaboration has enabled us to make significant advances in the development of a new drug, which is now in human clinical studies, and has recently been included in the US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation drug development pipeline.”

Using the information about how the alginate works, scientists have also developed a new inhalation therapy that is being tested on cystic fibrosis patients to help clear mucus obstructions in their lungs and potentially slow the progression of the disease. If successful it could also be used in other more common respiratory diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which is reported to affect over one million people in the UK.

The studies are also paving the way towards improved treatment of chronic non-healing skin wounds and fighting organisms that cause conditions such as gum disease.

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Over the past 6 years, Rachel has been working specifically within the digital marketing space and has worked with some of the country’s top brands. During this time, Rachel was a key attribute to the success of our sister product, Recruitment Buzz, which has firmly established itself as one of the leading publications within the Recruitment sector. Drawing on her knowledge and experience, Rachel has developed a genuine understanding of how content can engage and compel an audience.

Having a passion for travel and culture, Rachel left her hometown of Cardiff to pursue studies and travel and after several years away, Rachel returned to Cardiff and firmly established herself within the development of Business News Wales. Rachel is now responsible for every aspect of web management, marketing and overall production of the Business News Wales brand.

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