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Hopes of sea snail painkiller after breakthrough

Scientists at the University of Leicester hope a major breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer's and cancer may also lead to the development of a new painkiller, using a toxin produced by a sea snail.

We are very proud of this research. It has taken several years of hard work to master the chemistry techniques to create these new building blocks but now that we have conquered it we have access to new building blocks that people have only ever dreamed of before!

Amino acids are Mother Nature’s building blocks. They are used to make all proteins and so are essential for life, however Mother Nature only uses twenty of these building blocks. The Leicester research involves the chemical synthesis of unnatural amino acids that can be used to make unnatural mini-proteins with new 3D structures and importantly new functions.

We are actively using these building blocks to develop new treatments for cancer and Alzheimer's disease. We have also had a summer student use the building blocks to synthesise a toxin produced by a sea snail, and hope to develop this as a new painkiller.

– Dr Andrew Jamieson, lead scientist

Breakthrough in fight against Alzheimer's and cancer

Scientists at the University of Leicester have made a "breakthrough" in the fight against Alzheimer's and cancer, which they have described as "the stuff of dreams."

Dr Andrew Jamieson with Dr Boris Allard from the University of Leicester Credit: University of Leicester

Researchers have developed a new way to make "designer proteins" that can be used to make more effective drugs with fewer side effects.

The advance is announced by the Jamieson Research Group in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Leicester.

Their work, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry.

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Report: The hidden epidemic of hate crime

New research has uncovered harrowing examples of hate crimes. They include people being tipped out of their wheelchairs and guide dogs being attacked in the street.

Even more worrying is that one in three hate crimes are committed by people the victim knows. It comes as a new helpline is being launched for victims of this kind of crime in Birmingham.

The latest findings were part of a two year study at the University of Leicester - the widest ranging research on the subject ever undertaken.

Our reporter Rajiv Popat has been speaking to one woman whose house was set fire on fire as part of a campaign of hate.

'Devastating' number of hate crimes 'closer to home'

A 'devastating' number of hate crimes are committed by people closer to home than many would like to believe, according to researchers at the University of Leicester.

Harrowing examples of these crimes include disabled individuals being tipped from wheelchairs, human excrement being posted through letterboxes at homes and guide dogs being attacked in the street.

These findings are the result of a two-year Leicester Hate Crime Project, the widest-ranging study of hate crime ever untaken. It found that in over a third of cases offenders are known to the victim, either as acquaintances, neighbours, friends, work colleagues, family members or carers.

Injuries of King Richard III in Battle of Bosworth revealed

New research by the University of Leicester has revealed the injuries inflicted on King Richard III during the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

According to the findings, three of his injuries had the potential to cause death quickly - a blow to the skull and one to the pelvis.

King Richard III's skull Credit: University of Leicester

The remains of King Richard were found under a car park in Leicester.

CT scans were used in the process of analysing the bones.

Richard III's bones show car park king's lavish lifestyle

King Richard III's skeleton after being found underneath the council car park Credit: University of Leicester

Scientists have revealed previously unknown details about King Richard III's lifestyle after cutting edge research into his bones.

The joint work by the British Geological Survey in Keyworth in Nottingham and the University of Leicester, used a process called Isotope analysis, testing for chemical structures to give clues about where Richard III lived at certain times of his life, and the food he was eating at the time.

Richard III's skeleton in-situ during the excavation of the Greyfriar's car park Credit: University of Leicester

By looking at the teeth, a femur and a rib, the scientists saw a change in the king's diet from childhood, to when he would have eaten lavishly in later life after being crowned king..

Dr Angela Lamb, Isotope Geochemist and lead author of the paper said:

"The chemistry of Richard III's teeth and bones reveal changes in his geographical movements, diet and social status throughout his life."

– Dr Angela Lamb

The finding from the research will feature in a Channel 4 documentary tonight at 9pm.

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Multi-million pound heart centre opens in Leicester

New multi-million pound heart centre Credit: University of Leicester

A multi-million pound heart facility will be officially opened at at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester today. The University of Leicester British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Research Centre aims to improve diagnosis and treatment of heart diseases.

Funding for the new centre has come from a number of different charities and foundations including the British Heart Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation and the Edith Murphy Foundation.

Director of Development, Steve O'Conn said the centre will:

"Improve the health and life expectancy of patients and the public in Leicester, the UK and ultimately worldwide"

Study shows Richard III not 'hunchback toad' as thought

The remains of the last Plantagenet King were found under a Leicester car park Credit: University of Leicester

A study has shown King Richard III was not the "hunchback toad" described by Shakespeare, and was hardly affected by his spinal deformity.

Scientists who scanned his spine found that it had a "well balanced curve", that could have been concealed by clothes or armour.

Hunchback depictions have been seen on stage and on screen, but his head would not have been straight and not to one side, and no evidence of a limp was found. These findings are also supported by accounts written when Richard III was alive.

Dr Phil Stone, chairman of the Richard III Society, said:

Examination of Richard III's remains shows that he had scoliosis, thus confirming that the Shakespearean description of a 'hunch-backed toad' is a complete fabrication - yet more proof that, while the plays are splendid dramas, they are also most certainly fiction not fact.

History tells us that Richard III was a great warrior. Clearly, he was little inconvenienced by his spinal problem and accounts of his appearance, written when he was alive, tell that he was 'of person and bodily shape comely enough'.

University of Leicester develops technique to catch criminals

The new technology will make it easier to spot fingerprints Credit: Julian Stratenschulte/DPA/Press Association Images

Scientists at the University of Leicester have developed a new ultraviolet torch to identify fingerprints on receipts and cash machine statements.

Current methods for identifying fingerprints are not as effective on them because of the type of paper the machines use. The team says they hope the technology will help in the fight against theft and fraud.

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Richard III burial decision 'highly regrettable'

A mock up of Richard III based on research from the Society of Antiquaries. Credit: PA

The lawyer who spearheaded Richard III's descendants' legal challenge has described the High Court decision as "highly regrettable".

Matthew Howarth, partner at Yorkshire law firm Gordons, said his clients were now considering appealing against the ruling.

Mr Howarth said: "We obviously respect and accept today's verdict, and are grateful to have had the opportunity to raise this matter before the courts, but are naturally disappointed at the decision, which we regard as highly regrettable."

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