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Gideon Davies

Professor Gideon Davies

Professor Gideon Davies

Research Fellow

Grants awarded

Carbohydrate-active enzymes: from structure to cell

Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards

Organisation: University of York

Dates: Jan 2007-Dec 2011

Value: £80,000

Summary: To most people, sugar is something you add to tea. My group, however, believes sugars are the most exciting of all biological molecules. In addition to food, sugars play key roles in the structure of organisms from the walls of plants, fungi and bacteria, through to the shells of lobsters. Sugars are "the language of the cell" sometimes termed the "glycocode". Different cells in the body use sugars to communicate with other cells and sometimes the glycocode is hijacked by parasites, bacteria and viruses to cause disease. Everybody has heard of H5N1 "bird flu" or H1N1 "swine flu"; but few except the sugar chemist know that the letters "H" and "N" refer to specific sugar binding (H) and sugar degrading (N) proteins and their specificity and action are central to their actions. The HIV virus that causes AIDS hides from your immune system by displaying the same sugar clothes that are worn by our own cells; hijacking our own sugar synthesising apparatus for camouflage. We are currently working on diverse aspects of the biochemistry of sugars. We have both academic and industry related work on the enzymes that degrade plant polysaccharides (extended chains of linked sugars). These find use in all our lives in applications as diverse as biological washing powders & dishwasher additives through to the more high profile emerging roles in the production of bioethanol from "biomass" such as corn starch and waste plant matter. We also have several projects on the medical aspects of sugar chemistry. Of particular recent note is a project to exploit the roles of sugars on brain proteins to treat neurodegenerations such as Alzheimer's diseases. The ‘tauopathies’ are a group of neurodegenerative diseases that effect more than 5 million people in the USA alone. In collaboration with a Canadian University we have developed compounds that change the subtle modifications of the tau protein which look like they have great potential as anti Alzheimer's compounds.

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Organisation: University of York

Dates: Oct 1996-Sep 2005

Value: £178,616.41

Summary: This project summary is not available for publication.

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