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Cambridge Infectious Diseases

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

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Science Festival Roundup: what's on?

last modified Feb 21, 2014 02:36 PM

The 10th - 23rd March marks the 20th anniversary of Cambridge Science Festival. As always, with talks and hands-on activities, the Festival is a great opportunity to explore Cambridge science, and there are numerous opportunities to find out about the work being undertaken by Cambridge researchers. We've rounded up the top infectious disease- themed events for your pleasure.


Why cats make you sneeze: new research from immunology

Wednesday 12 March: 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Mill Lane Lecture Rooms , Room 9, 8 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RW

Allergic reactions are the result of the immune system overreacting to a perceived danger. Instead of identifying and responding to a harmful virus or bacteria, it misidentifies different allergens, including dander (skin cells from animal fur), as dangerous and mounts an immune response. In this talk Professor Clare Bryant will discuss our new research which reveals how the most common cause of severe allergic reactions to cats, the FelD1 protein which is found in cat dander, triggers an allergic response. The talk will go on to consider the potential therapies that may arise from this work and how these approaches may be relevant to a whole range of common allergies.

More info..


Antibody angling: discovery of new medicines using phage display

Saturday 15 March: 11:00am - 5:00pm

Cambridge Corn Exchange, Wheeler Street, Cambridge , CB2 3QB

Medimmune’s hands-on activity looks at the science behind our drug discovery platform. It involves building from craft materials of a model of phage (displaying a scFv) binding a therapeutic target. Topics covered include molecular cloning, phage display, selections, genotype-phenotype link, and the use of antibodies as medicines.

MedImmune is the worldwide biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, pioneering innovative research and exploring novel pathways across key therapeutic areas. Employing more than 500 people, MedImmune’s Cambridge site is a major R&D hub contributing to all of MedImmune’s therapy areas, including respiratory; inflammation and autoimmunity; cardiovascular and metabolic disease; oncology; neuroscience; and infection and vaccines.

More info..


Why snot?

Saturday 15 March: 10:00am - 3:00pm

Department of Pathology, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge, CB2 1QP

Why do our noses make snot? It's the first line of our body's defense against viruses and other bugs (your immune system). Find out about how and why snot is made and what is in it.

What other weapons does the body have to fight off invaders? How does it battle that enemy from within - cancer?

Make your own (fake!) snot and find out about our bodies’ amazing standing army. Enthusiastic immunologists are on hand to tell you about their work.

More info..


Virus wars: antibodies strike back!

Saturday 15 March: 11:00am - 5:00pm
Sunday 16 March: 11:00am - 4:00pm

Cambridge Corn Exchange, Wheeler Street, Cambridge , CB2 3QB

Viruses are deadly. They kill twice as many people as cancer does. Join scientists from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and discover how cells are able to use antibodies to detect and destroy viruses. Test your scientific skills in our containment hood speed pipetting game!

More info..


Kiss of death: how killer cells fight off viruses

Saturday 15 March: 10:00am - 3:00pm

Department of Pathology, Teaching Laboratory, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge, CB2 1QP

Killer T-cells are white blood cells that detect and eliminate virally infected cells. These key players of the human immune system make toxic substances and deliver them to their targets through a highly organised cell-cell contact zone: the Immune Synapse (IS). To achieve the correct patterning of the IS that allows it to deliver a fast, precise and reproducible lethal hit, the T-cell has to perform a series of remarkable rearrangements of its internal structures.

Our movies show live killer T-cells as they attack their targets and our giant 3D model of a T-cell allows an interactive demonstration of what we have witnessed down the microscope. Finally people of all ages can decorate their own T-cell cookie to take home whilst quenching their thirst for knowledge.

More info..


Our immune system decides

Saturday 15 March: 11:00am - 5:00pm

Sunday 16 March: 11:00am - 4:00pm

Cambridge Corn Exchange, Wheeler Street, Cambridge , CB2 3QB

Frequently, news items inform the public about the importance of a healthy immune system, but less is understood about the contributions bacteria make to our health. Conversely, there are a number of products claiming to improve our lives by ‘killing 99% of all known germs’ in our homes. It is important that we understand how our immune system can protect us from the harmful bacteria while allowing the beneficial ones to thrive, and how we can adopt a healthy lifestyle to boost our body’s natural ability to fight infections. Just how clean do our houses need to be?

Our exhibit will explore issues of immunology and health in an interactive and easily accessible way. In addition it will show how current research at taxpayer-funded institutes is providing a greater understanding of the immune system and how to influence it to improve our wellbeing. Our scientists will demonstrate the presence of bacteria in our surroundings; using microscopes and yogurts. We will examine what they look like and how they can promote health. An interactive time-lapse video will demonstrate the presence and fast-growth of bacteria from our skin. Visitors will learn about antigen recognition and antibody structure by ‘fishing’ for harmful bacteria in our microorganism soup.

Our jigsaw competition will give visitors a practical understanding of the production of millions of different antibodies through ‘shuffling’ of antibody building-blocks. Visitors will be drawn to and interact with the centre-piece of our exhibit, a giant E. coli bacterium, covered in surface antigen boxes, which upon identification of the correct antibody key will open to reveal a take-home hand-out. There will be images, films and computer-based activities revealing different aspects of the immune system and how a healthy diet can support it.

More info..


DNA, diseases and dilemmas: debating the use of bacterial genome data in healthcare

Wednesday 19 March: 7:00pm - 8:30pm

Emmanuel College, Queen's Building Theatre, St Andrew’s Street, Cambridge, CB2 3AP

What are the social and ethical issues of using DNA sequencing to fight infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis? How can genetic information be used to track the spread of infection, identify drug resistance and determine treatments? We will discuss the challenges of hospitals using this information through stories of patients with these infections. Join the debate and share your views with an expert panel led by Professor Sharon Peacock.

The 100K Genome Project is integrating whole genome sequencing technologies into the NHS to improve understanding of cancer, and rare and infectious diseases. When the Prime Minister announced the project in 2013, the headlines focused on cancer. In this event, we aim to focus on DNA sequencing in people with infectious diseases. Professor Sharon Peacock chaired the group that selected tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis C infection as the infectious diseases priorities for the Infectious Diseases component of the 100K Genome Project.

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The Big Nose

Sunday 23 March: 11:00am - 4:00pm

Clinical School, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge, CB2 0SP

A giant (and we mean giant) nose takes centre stage as we explore aspects of allergies, sneezing and ...snot. Explore the niftiness of our noses with the help of a huge model of a nose and other activities, including making your own (fake) snot. Enthusiastic immunologists will be at hand to talk about their research. If you ask nicely they can explain why snot may be different colours, what the difference between a cold and the flu is and many related questions.

More info..