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World Changers: November

By Katie McKay

From 6G to groundbreaking treatments for antibiotic resistance, The Glasgow Guardian looks at the world changing research taking place on campus.

Research at the University of Glasgow continues to be at the forefront of innovation, creating positive change globally. Living up to their slogan ‘world changers welcome,’ October and the beginning of November have seen groundbreaking research in earth sciences, medicine and technology. 

Academics of the University of Glasgow’s School of Social & Environmental Sustainability were involved in the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative (GAMI) – the first peer-reviewed literature mapping climate change adaptation. The review found that systematic networking has been insufficient.

The study aimed to evaluate human responses and climate-change related adaptations since 2013, and answer the question of whether we are adapting to climate change or not. GAMI, led by 29 universities, found that the majority of the burden of adaptation fell to individuals and households.

According to the review, there are holes in the distribution of responsibility for adaptation globally. There is not enough collaboration between state and non-state actors.

The university’s Dr Jiren Xu and Dr Emilie Cremin were part of an international team headed by LMU Munich and the University of Hamburg, who evaluated over 1400 studies on climate change adaptation. The University of Glasgow was the only British university involved.

Dr Jiren Xu said that while efforts by individuals and households are applaudable, the government and other institutional players need to take “coordinated action.” The School of Social and Environmental Sustainability aims to follow this review by “diligently working to connect grassroots resilience with policy-driven action.” Particularly in Scotland, the study highlights the “immediate reality and demands of climate change.” and the “need for a unified approach where individual actions are supported by strong institutional frameworks and forward-thinking policies.”

Regarding medical advances, a team of researchers from the University of Glasgow and the University of Oxford have raised £4.3 million in seed funding to develop targeted therapeutics to the problem of antibiotic resistance.

The research aims to develop antibiotic therapies, established from naturally occurring bacteriocins. The spin-out company, Glox Therapeutics, are pioneers in this field. The funding will establish laboratories in both Glasgow and Oxford, accelerating the programme. 

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a significant public health issue, and it is getting worse. It is crucial that effective antimicrobial therapeutics are developed – by 2050, AMR is predicted to cause 10 million deaths globally. 

Using engineered protein bacteriocins, specially selected Gram-negative pathogens will be targeted. Bacteriocins, naturally produced by bacteria, have antimicrobial qualities against related and similar strains. Research by Glox Therapeutics concerns the targeting of pathogens while simultaneously preserving the patient’s microbiomes, ensuring effective treatment and hopefully a reduction in side effects. 

CEO of Glox Therapeutics, James Clark, stated: “Our mission is to provide physicians and patients with highly potent, targeted antimicrobial therapies that can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria for which there are diminishing options available for treatment.”

Vice Principal Economic Development and Innovation at The University of Glasgow, Uzma Khan, said: “Bacteriocins offer the precision needed to target pathogens resistant to current treatments. Our novel platform, developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford, circumvents problems traditionally associated with using bacteriocins as therapeutics. We look forward to seeing the Company carry this forward to help deliver Gram-negative antimicrobial drugs.”

In technology, The University of Glasgow has been responsible for new developments on the precipice of telecommunication technology. A new research laboratory, dedicated to advancing 6G communications has opened in the James Watt School of Engineering. The Terahertz On-chip Circuit Test Cluster for 6G Communications and Beyond lab (TiC6G) was unveiled at an event on November 1. 

The facility is the first of its kind. A £2.6 million grant was awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). TiC6G is home to avant-garde technology, to test prototype devices for 6G, deemed to be the “next generation of ultrafast wireless networks.” Commercial availability is expected by 2030.

Research is set to push advancement of permitting technologies for the next leap in wireless and mobile communications, as well as radar sensing and quantum computing systems.

At the launch event, University representatives signed a memorandum of understanding with Keysight Technologies, a leading power in electronics and testing measurement. The agreement aims to broaden collaboration in developing new measurement technologies that address “the challenges of tomorrow.” 

The principal investigator of the grant enabling the establishment of the TiC6G lab, Professor Edward Wasige stated, “The University of Glasgow has been working at the forefront of communications technologies for many years, including as a host for the Scotland 5G Centre’s testbed for 5G communications.

“The TiC6G lab will help us remain at the leading edge as the next generation is established, bringing with it exciting new applications in healthcare, transportation, clean energy, and more.

“Tic6G also aligns with key UK government strategies on semiconductors, digital technologies, space, and quantum computing, putting the University in a key position to help deliver national objectives.”


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