Industry News: Olympic 2012 Anti-Doping Facility to become Medical Research Center

01 Aug 2012

The London 2012 anti-doping facilities are to be developed after the Olympic and Paralympic Games into a world-class resource that could help to revolutionize healthcare.

The cutting edge facilities will become the MRC-NIHR Phenome Center, where researchers will explore the characteristics of disease in order to develop new drugs and treatments for patients.

A phenome describes a person’s chemistry – all the molecules in their blood, urine or tissues – that are the result of their genetics and their lifestyle. This mixture of molecules is changing all the time and is influenced by factors such as diet, environment and even stress levels. The phenome is linked to how a person responds to disease or to treatments such as drugs.

Researchers at the Center will investigate the phenome patterns of patients and volunteers by analyzing samples – usually blood or urine – very rapidly and on an unprecedented scale. This will help them to discover new ‘biomarkers’ which may explain why one individual or population may be more susceptible to a disease than another. This knowledge will aid scientists in finding new, safer and more targeted treatments. Phenome analysis has already been used to ‘tailor’ cancer treatment to suit individual patients by, for example, minimizing the toxicity and maximizing the efficiency of drug treatments for colon cancer.

The MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre will enable the UK to make its world-class phenotyping technology and expertise available to both researchers and the life sciences industry to accelerate the translation of medical discoveries into better healthcare. The new Center will be led by a collaboration of academic partners, led by Imperial College London, and the suppliers of nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry equipment (Bruker and Waters Corporation).

Waters Corporation will be providing technicians to install and help run a range of analytical laboratory instruments and software programmes in the new centre, including mass spectrometry units, which will allow the scientists to analyze samples in greater detail than ever before.

Dr. Rohit Khanna, Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for Waters said: "Discovering and mapping the human genome was one of modern science's greatest achievements, revolutionising how we think about the human body and its evolution. Phenotyping is about taking that wealth of knowledge and trying to understand how the things we do and the way we live coupled with our genetic make-up affects our disease risk factors and responses to therapy.

"There are no limits to the health-related breakthroughs we might see as a result of research carried out at the Phenome Centre. In future generations, perhaps diabetes, cancer or heart disease will be consigned to history Alternatively, we might learn to more fully understand and eradicate obesity or other social health problems.

"Research on the scale that will take place at the centre will, we hope, mean fast, comprehensive results over the coming years."

Dr. Manfred Spraul, Director of NMR Business Development, Bruker Corporation, said: "Based on long-lasting and very successful collaborations with Professor Jeremy Nicholson at Imperial (see below), Bruker is pleased to actively contribute to the new MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre and help revolutionise the understanding of the causes and mechanisms of disease. Nuclear magnetic resonance and hyphenated technologies, together with improved biofluids and tissue data analysis, will enable personalised phenotyping using top-down system biology tools combined with conventional clinical diagnostics and patient information. We consider the centre to be the crystallisation point for a future network of phenome centres around the world."