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Parental transmission of pathogen protection to offspring

Burton et al. in the Miska lab show that a soil bacterium, P. vranovensis, is a natural pathogen of the nematode C. elegans and that parental exposure of animals to P. vranovensis promotes offspring resistance to infection. The protective effect of increasing survival of offspring by up to 50-fold is mediated by the cysteine synthases, CYSL-1 and CYSL-2.

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Antibody technology pinpoints role for actin regulator SNX9 in filopodia

Jarsch et al. present a new way to study how filopodia form, which is helping understand pathogen infection. The Gallop lab combined their cell-free system of filopodia-like structures with phage display phenotypic screening, in collaboration with Antibody Discovery and Protein Engineering at AZ. They identified a role for actin regulatory protein SNX9 in filopodia and, with Richard Hayward (Pathology Dept), showed its colocalisation with the entry of human pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis into cells.

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Tailless/TLX directs cell fate change in tumourigenesis

Hakes and Brand uncover the cell fate changes that occur during brain tumour initiation. They show that high levels of Tailless/TLX, known to be associated with aggressive glioblastomas, revert intermediate progenitors to neural stem cells as a first step to tumourigenesis. Their findings also support enforced differentiation as an effective treatment for Tailless/TLX-induced brain tumours.

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Seeing dots and stripes

By combining two Turing systems for pattern generation, 'dot' and 'stripe', Cornwall Scoones and Hiscock from the Simons lab propose a mechanism that can control joint patterning in the digits of a four-limbed organism. This unifying theory can be applied across species, regardless of the underlying biological markers.

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Probing human germ cell specification

Using inducible degrons for rapid and specific depletion of the protein PRDM14 in human primordial germ cells, the Surani lab show that loss of this genetic regulator results in disruption of normal germ cell specification and development, in ways that differ from PRDM14's role in equivalent germ cells in mice.

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Pancreas organoids to model disease

Pancreas organoids can be successfully generated from single cells, or fresh and frozen tissue, then expanded and maintained long-term in culture, say the Huch and Simons labs in their latest paper. These organoids grown in chemically defined culture medium provide an important model for research into the healthy and diseased pancreas, including conditions such as cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis, cancer and diabetes.

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Cancelled: Aspiring Scientists Training Programme

We have decided to cancel this year's Aspiring Scientists Training Programme, due to the disruption and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. All applicants have been informed. We hope to be able to run the programme again next year.

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Institute CLOSED from 5pm Friday 20th March

In line with University of Cambridge guidance for limiting spread of coronavirus, the Gurdon Institute is not open to students, staff or visitors, and is not running on-site meetings, from 5pm on Friday 20th March until further notice. Students and most staff have begun working remotely, while a handful of essential staff will be on site periodically to maintain the building.

University COVID-19 website

Physical Biology Centre launched

The newly launched Cambridge Centre for Physical Biology aims to support and facilitate multidisciplinary collaborations across the University of Cambridge. Gurdon Institute Group Leader Ben Simons is one of the main leaders of the project. Explore the project website for more information.

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Spinouts from the Gurdon

Our final video in the series 'A Year in Institute Life' looks at two current examples of the many spinout companies and enterprises to come from the Gurdon Institute. In the clip shown, Prof Steve Jackson describes how fundamental research has led to more than one new concept to spin out from his lab.

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An artist's view of the Rawlins lab

Artist Caroline Walker was commissioned by Cambridge University Library to capture images of women working in the lab at the Gurdon Institute. After shadowing researchers in the Rawlins lab and taking photographs, Caroline created this large oil painting now on view at the UL's exhibition, 'The Rising Tide: Women at Cambridge'.

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Covid 19


The Gurdon Institute closed on Friday 20th March for all but essential activities in order to protect staff from the COVID-19 outbreak.

We can still be contacted by email.

Studying development to understand disease

The Gurdon Institute is funded by Wellcome and Cancer Research UK to study the biology of development, and how normal growth and maintenance go wrong in cancer and other diseases.

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