£1 million boost for fungicide research in University’s first Industrial Partnership Award
Professor Tony Moore has been awarded over £1 million for research into the development of novel fungicides – in what is the University of Sussex's first Industrial Partnership Award.
The award, from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) in collaboration with Agform Ltd, will help to drive vital research into the control of respiratory activity in fungi which attack the world’s major cereal crops. Professor Tony Moore has worked closely with the Sussex Innovation Centre, the University’s business-incubation hub, over a number of years to realise commercial opportunities for the development of fungicide resistance inhibitors.
He will now work with Agform Ltd, a company which develops agrochemicals to help control fungi in crops, to design fungicides to target the protein ‘alternative oxidase’. Alternative oxidase is protein which is expressed by all plants and plays a key-role in the respiratory chain of fungi. The protein is present in a number of parasites including trypanosomes which are the causative agent of African sleeping sickness, a disease which infects 30,000-50,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa for which there is no effective or clinically safe cure.
In collaboration with Professor Kita (University of Nagoya, Japan), Professor Moore has also aided the design of a number of compounds that are proving clinically to be an effective control of this neglected disease.
Professor Moore, from the University of Sussex, said: “Fungicides play a key role in the control of diseases in crops and are a vital part of ensuring global food security. Our previous fungicides work has provided us with the platform to design novel compounds, specifically targeted to the alternative oxidase in fungi that attack major cereal crops such as wheat, barley and rice.
“This research could also help to prove a vital treatment for diseases such as African sleeping sickness and Black Sigatoka, a fungi currently devastating the banana plantations in South East Asia in addition to preventing Ash die-back disease in Europe.”
John Misselbrook, Managing Director of Agform, said: "Agform Limited are very pleased to offer this support to the project and we look forward to our continuing collaboration with regard to the research, involving the undoubted skills of both of our organisations. Resistance to agrochemicals is an international problem that affects all major crops. Any new product identified by our collaboration could thus be very valuable in a large market, important in the cultivation of cereal crops in the UK.”
Professor Michael Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), the University of Sussex, said: “It is essential that we support researchers in maximising the impact of their work and a big part of this is by taking innovative ideas to the market. At the University of Sussex we are doing this through the Sussex Innovation Centre which is leading the way in supporting research which can benefit our whole society.”
Based at the University’s Falmer campus, the Sussex Innovation Centre offers flexible, professional office space and a range of in-house support services to assist start-up businesses and university enterprises during the early years of their operation. For more information please visit http://www.sinc.co.uk/centre-locations