University of CanterburyWednesday 24 February 2010, 3:29PM
The efficiency of influenza virus drugs, such as Tamiflu, can
now be tested thanks to equipment at the University of
The research will be carried out in the University's world-class
Biomolecular Interaction Centre (BIC) laboratory in collaboration
with Environmental Science & Research (ESR) and the National
Centre for Biosecurity and Infectious Disease.
This research project is possible thanks to specialist
state-of-the-art equipment and new BioRad certification as a
"Central to our equipment is the surface plasmon resonance (SPR)
that we got from BioRad," said BIC Co-director Professor Conan Fee
(Chemical and Process Engineering).
UC was the first in the southern hemisphere to buy a BioRad SPR
ProteOn XPR 36 which is used to determine the specificity, affinity
and kinetics of the interactions of biomolecules. The SPR also
enables researchers to focus on testing scientific hypothesis
rather than driving the instrument.
Professor Fee said that it had some "nice features, essentially it
allows us to do a lot of research, get many results and very
Using the SPR, anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu will be tested for
efficiency in combating strains of influenza.
"Where the influenza virus mutates and becomes resistant to
medication, we are developing new methods by which we can explore
those mechanisms - this is a project that has come to us directly
because of SPR," Professor Fee said.
" We aim to test this in our instrument to see if anti-viral drugs
work or the viruses have developed resistance."
Another collaboration includes research with the Wakefield
Gastroenterology Centre in Wellington.
The Wakefield Gastroenterology Centre approached BIC directly as a
result of having the SPR and since has developed a collaboration
looking at type 2 diabetes. The research is looking at the
relationship between gastric bypass surgery and the disappearance
of insulin resistance in diabetic patients.
"Professor Richard Stubbs [gastric by-pass surgeon and Adjunct
Professor at Otago University's Wellington Clinical School of
Medicine] came to visit UC to offer a library of blood and serum
samples from gastric bypass patients," said Professor Fee.
"They are going to provide the samples and we will look at the
reactions between insulin and its receptor using the SPR - looking
for factors and the mechanism of why diabetics' symptoms switch off
after gastric bypass surgery."
BIC also has collaborations with Plant and Food, Lincoln
University, the University of Otago Christchurch School of
Medicine, AgResearch and more recently Industrial Research Ltd and
"BIC is working well with new collaborations, even in its early
stage, and we are all very enthusiastic," said Professor Fee.