The latest list of publications from the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre with a brief summary. 

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Publication: Neurobiology of Aging

David JWhiteside, P. Simon Jones, Boyd C P Ghosh, Ian Coyle-Gilchrist, Alexander Gerhard, Michele T. Hu, Johannes C Klein, P. Nigel Leigh, Alastair Church, David J Burn, Huw R Morris, James B Rowe, TimothyRittman

16 July 2021


This study investigated patterns of brain activity at rest in the neurodegenerative disease progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).

The study found that participants with PSP spend more time than individuals without the disease in certain brain states, meaning their brain activity was less flexible and less efficient than normal. The time spent in these brain states was more apparent in participants who were more severely affected.

The changes in the brain’s activity did not only involve regions of the brain that are most affected by PSP, meaning that effect of the tau protein pathology of PSP has consequences across the whole brain, even where it may appear normal on a scan or have no tau pathology.


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Publication: International Journal of Epidemiology

Peige Song, Ananya Gupta, Ian Y Goon, Mehedi Hasan, Sara Mahmood, Rajendra Pradeepa, Samreen Siddiqui, Gary S Frost, Dian Kusuma, Marisa Miraldo, Franco Sassi, Nick J Wareham, Sajjad Ahmed, Ranjit M. Anjana, Soren Brage, Nita G Forouhi, Sujeet Jha, Anuradhani Kasturiratne, Prasad Katulanda, Khadija I Khawaja, Marie Loh, Malay K Mridha, Ananda R Wickremasinghe, Jaspal S Kooner, John C Chambers,

09 July 2021


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) are leading and closely interlinked global health challenges. The burdens of T2DM and CVD are especially high in South Asia, one of the most populous and the most densely populated regions of the world. Identification of the primary risk factors for T2DM and CVD is central to the development of effective approaches for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases such as T2DM and CVD. To address this important need, we have established a unique cross-sectional population-based study focused on the South Asian population: the South Asia Biobank (SAB).

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Publication: European Journal of Nutrition

Tuck Seng Cheng, Stephen J. Sharp, Soren Brage, Pauline M. Emmett, Nita G. Forouhi & Ken K. Ong

7 July 2021


Early puberty is associated with adverse health outcomes. To identify potential modifiable factors for puberty timing, we examined the associations of prepubertal childhood macronutrient intakes with puberty timing in boys and girls. The findings suggest habitual total energy intakes in children, and protein intakes in girls, as potential modifiable determinants of puberty timing.

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Publication: Journal of Nutrition

Philip T James, Zakari Ali, Andrew E Armitage, Ana Bonell, Carla Cerami, Hal Drakesmith, Modou Jobe, Kerry S Jones, Zara Liew, Sophie E Moore, Fernanda Morales-Berstein, Helen M Nabwera, Behzad Nadjm, Sant-Rayn Pasricha, Pauline Scheelbeek, Matt J Silver, Megan R Teh, Andrew M Prentice

1 July 2021


Many nutrients have powerful immunomodulatory actions with the potential to alter susceptibility to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection, progression to symptoms, likelihood of severe disease, and survival. The aim was to review the latest evidence on how malnutrition across all its forms (under- and overnutrition and micronutrient status) may influence both susceptibility to, and progression of, COVID-19.

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Publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

Irene Cimino, Hanna Kim, Y. C. Loraine Tung, Kent Pedersen, Debra Rimmington, John A. Tadross,  Sara N. Kohnke, Ana Neves-Costa, André Barros, Stephanie Joaquim, Don Bennett, Audrey Melvin, Samuel M. Lockhart,  Anthony J. Rostron, Jonathan Scott, Hui Liu,  Keith Burling, Peter Barker, Menna R. Clatworthy, E-Chiang Lee,A. John Simpson, Giles S. H. Yeo, Luís F. Moita, Kendra K. Bence, Sebastian Beck Jørgensen, Anthony P. Coll, Danna M. Breen, and Stephen O’Rahilly

30 June 2021


Researchers have described a new way that the body senses damage and activates hormones in response to stressful situations – involving the protein GDF15

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Publication: Cell Reports

Bo Meng, Steven A. Kemp, Guido Papa, Rawlings Datir, Isabella A.T.M. Ferreira, Sara Marelli, William T. Harvey, Spyros Lytras, Ahmed Mohamed, Giulia Gallo, Nazia Thakur, Dami A. Collier, Petra Mlcochova

29 June 2021

One of the key mutations seen in the ‘Alpha variant’ of SARS-CoV-2 – the deletion of two amino acids, H69/V70 – enables the virus to overcome chinks in its armour as it evolves, say an international team of scientists.

SARS-CoV-2 is a coronavirus, so named because spike proteins on its surface give it the appearance of a crown (‘corona’). The spike proteins bind to ACE2, a protein receptor found on the surface of cells in our body. Both the spike protein and ACE2 are then cleaved, allowing genetic material from the virus to enter the host cell. The virus manipulates the host cell’s machinery to allow the virus to replicate and spread.

As SARS-CoV-2 divides and replicates, errors in its genetic makeup cause it to mutate. Some mutations make the virus more transmissible or more infectious, some help it evade the immune response, potentially making vaccines less effective, while others have little effect.

Towards the end of 2020, Cambridge scientists observed SARS-CoV-2 mutating in the case of an immunocompromised patient treated with convalescent plasma. In particular, they saw the emergence of a key mutation – the deletion of two amino acids, H69/V70, in the spike protein. This deletion was later found in B1.1.7, the variant that led to the UK being forced once again into strict lockdown in December (now referred to as the ‘Alpha variant’).

Researchers led by scientists at the University of Cambridge show that the deletion H69/V70 is present in more than 600,000 SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences worldwide, and has seen global expansion, particularly across much of Europe, Africa and Asia.

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Publication: Science Direct

Setareh Alabaf, Brian Kirkpatrick, Shanquan Chenc, Rudolf N. Cardinal, Emilio Fernandez-Egea

28 June 2021


Researchers examined whether timing of known risk factors for schizophrenia may influence the development of schizophrenia with primary negative symptoms.

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Publication: Authorea (pre-print)

Mark Ferris, Rebecca Ferris, Chris Workman, Eoin O’Connor, David A Enoch, Emma Goldesgeyme, Natalie Quinnell, Parth Patel, Jo Wright, Geraldine Martell, Christine Moody, Ashley Shaw, Christopher J.R. Illingworth, Nicholas J. Matheson, Michael P. Weekes

24 June 2021

When Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge upgraded its face masks for staff working on COVID-19 wards to filtering face piece 3 (FFP3) respirators, it saw a dramatic fall – up to 100% – in hospital-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infections among these staff.

The findings are reported by a team at the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) NHS Foundation Trust. The research has not yet been peer-reviewed, but is being released early because of the urgent need to share information relating to the pandemic.

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Publication: Journal of Parkinson's Disease

Roger Barker, Danielle Daft, Emma Cutting

01 April 2021


This is an opinion article on the use of advanced therapy medicinal products in Parkinson’s disease, and how they can be taken into the clinic.

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Publication: Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology

Fernandez-Egea, Emilio; Chen, Shanquan; Jenkins, Christopher; Turrion, Concha; Mitchell, Simon P.; Dodwell, David J. F.; Mann, Louisa M.; Deakin, Julia B.; Syed, Zahoor H.; Hafizi, Sepehr; Zimbron, Jorge; Praseedom, Asha S.; Cardinal, Rudolf N.

17 June 2021


Factors associated with sedation and its pharmacological management remain poorly studied.  Researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study based on deidentified electronic clinical records of clozapine-treated patients from the secondary mental health care provider for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, United Kingdom.

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Publication: Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology

Maura Malpetti, , Negin Holland, P. Simon Jones, Rong Ye, , Thomas E. Cope, Tim D. Fryer, Young T. Hong, George Savulich, Timothy Rittman, Luca Passamonti, Elijah Mak, Franklin I. Aigbirhio, John T. O’Brien, & James B. Rowe

16 June 2021


Brain cells communicate via special connections called synapses. The loss of these synapses is common and early in dementia. We can now measure the amount of synapses across the brain, in people, with a brain scanning technique called positron emission tomography.

Researchers studied healthy adults who were at risk of developing dementia because of a mutation in a gene called C9orf72. They found that synapse loss was already present many years before symptoms were expected, especially in a part of the brain called the thalamus. Such early pre-symptomatic changes are vital to measure, in order to test preventative treatments to step dementia in people at high genetic risk

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Publication: Clinical Trials

Estée Török, Benjamin R Underwood, Mark Toshner, Claire Waddington, Emad Sidhom, Katherine Sharrocks, Rachel Bousfield, Charlotte Summers, Caroline Saunders, Zoe McIntyre, Helen Morris, Jo Piper, Gloria Calderon, Sarah Dennis, Tracy Assari, Anita Marguerie de Rotrou, Ashley Shaw, John Bradley, John O’Brien, Robert C Rintoul, Ian Smith, Ed Bullmore, Krishna Chatterjee

22 June 2021


Researchers describe their experience of rapidly setting up and delivering a novel COVID-19 vaccine trial, using clinical and research staff and facilities in three National Health Service Trusts in Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom.

Researchers encountered and overcame a number of challenges including differences in organisational structures, research facilities available, staff experience and skills, information technology and communications infrastructure, and research training and assessment procedures. These were overcome by setting up a project team that included key members from all three organisations that met at least daily by teleconference.

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