First approval for production of an anti-HIV antibody in plants

UK regulators have approved Europe’s first clinical trial of an antibody produced from genetically modified (GM) plants. This landmark decision sets the stage for the testing in humans of an anti-HIV product made from modified tobacco plants. It will open the door for trials of additional plant-derived medicines treating a range of diseases.

The trial will test the safety of a plant-derived antibody designed to stop the transmission of HIV between sexual partners when applied directly to the vaginal cavity. If proven safe in the 11 participants, the researchers can then go on to test the effectiveness of the product.

New social enterprise will help people with learning difficulties to handle challenging emotions through pictures

A new social enterprise has been launched at the House of Lords to publish a series of picture books that help people with learning and communication difficulties tackle challenging and emotional events. Three new books have been published to mark the launch.

The new enterprise, called Beyond Words, is a spin-out company from St George’s, University of London. It will continue the production of the well-established Books Beyond Words series, which uses pictures instead of words to communicate with adults and adolescents who cannot read, or have difficulty reading or communicating.

St George’s, University of London announces fees and funding for 2012/13

St George’s, University of London will charge new UK and EU students £9,000 a year in fees for undergraduate degrees and £6,000 a year for foundation degrees from September 2012.

To continue to support fair access to higher education, St George’s will increase its total spend on student support, outreach and retention activities to equate to more than 30 per cent of the additional income. This supplements university-led spend in this area of commitment and will provide extra support for students who may be considering dropping out of their studies at St George’s. It will also enable the university to work with more school pupils to inform them about higher education opportunities.

Class of 2011 graduates

Almost 630 students have graduated from St George’s, University of London, and will now take their places among the next generation of doctors, scientists and healthcare professionals. Graduates received their awards from St George’s principal Professor Peter Kopelman at the ceremony at London’s Barbican yesterday (11 July).

Almost 500 graduates attended the ceremony, and a total of almost 630 received degrees this year.

New discovery throws light on blood pressure regulation

Researchers have discovered that a protein found in the walls of blood vessels plays a key role in maintaining healthy blood pressure; a discovery that could one day lead to new treatments for people with high blood pressure.

The research, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the British Heart Foundation (BHF), shows that malfunction of the protein – a potassium channel called Kv7.4 – contributes to the maintenance of high blood pressure. The discovery has been published in the journal Circulation.