Category Archives: Issue 12 July 19

Making a difference

Datesand have been assisting workers at Cancer Research UK in rewarding hard-working employees that really make a difference.

Tony Davidge from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute explains more below…

“Following a suggestion from a member of our AWERB (Animal Welfare & Ethical Review Body) it was agreed that we should look at a way of recognising and rewarding those everyday actions that staff do that are typically met with the reply of it’s ‘just part of my job’ but actually impacts on the animals in their care or their colleagues. It was agreed that it should be something that would be done on a timely basis so recognition was prompt and a small reward would be included. 

As most technicians run on a combination of caffeine and sugar, we felt that a free fresh ground coffee and freshly made cake would be a very quick and simple reward. Although, once consumed it could be easily ‘forgotten’, so we have included a commemorative mug picturing the recipient, date and the slogan of the now title ‘’I made a difference to a mouse’’ or shortened to ‘Imad’. To encourage nominations, it was agreed that the nominee would also receive coffee and cake – but the mug would remain exclusive only for the nominated individual.

Once we finalised the idea, we sought sponsorship. As we had already formed a working relationship with Datesand during an out-reach project with the Cambridge Academy of Science Technology Challenge Projects, we were very pleased that it was an initiative that Datesand said they would like to support. Not only were they willing to sponsor ‘imad’ financially but the superb design/marketing team were able to design a very professional mug, incorporating our various logos, the ‘I made a difference to a mouse‘ slogan and the winners photo (as we all know what happens with mugs in communal tea rooms).

To ensure impartiality and non-biased judging, one of our Senior Group Leaders who heads the Biological Steering Committee judges all the nominations and decides on the monthly winner. The nominations have been very competitive, so much so that we are currently investigating a means of celebrating a more encompassing larger ‘3Rs’ initiative and also recognising those efforts where actions have been more team players, than the original brief of a difference to a mouse.


The photo is of our first month’s winners, where Nimesh (Scientist) was recognised for the initial idea and both Michael (BRU) and Jack (Property Services) were jointly recognised for the effort that they both put in tracing and remedying a lighting concern within a holding room.  

So, a huge well done to the recipients and massive thank to Ryan and Jonathon for enthusiastically agreeing to sponsor and for the guys behind the scenes for their creative skills in designing the mugs.”

Researchers eliminated HIV from the DNA of infected mice

By Scottie Andrew and Saeed Ahmed – CNN


Researchers have successfully eliminated HIV from the DNA of infected mice, a promising step toward a cure for the nearly 37 million people living with the virus.

In a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications, researchers from Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) coupled genome editing technology with a slow-release virus suppression drug to eliminate HIV cells entirely from some infected mice.

Current HIV treatment cannot eliminate the virus entirely but does suppress its replication. Antiretroviral therapy, or ART, requires lifelong use to stall the virus’ spread and, as a May study found, can potentially end the transmission of HIV between sexual partners.

Testing their methods on a group of infected “humanized mice,” or rodents engineered to produce human T cells susceptible to HIV, researchers administered a treatment called LASER ART, or long-acting, slow-effective release ART, to suppress HIV cells from replicating.

The team modified the drug for a slow-release across several weeks, targeting tissue in the spleen, bone marrow and brain where latent HIV reservoirs, or clusters of inactive HIV cells, were likely to occur.

To eliminate the remaining infective cells from the subject’s DNA, they employed a gene-editing tool called CRISPR-Cas9.

The process allowed the teams to “clean segments of the genome” and remove the HIV chromosome, co-author Kamel Khalili told CNN.

By the study’s end, researchers had successfully eliminated the virus from nine out of 23 mice.


The results prove that they can be eliminated


The two labs initially began their research separately: Howard Gendelman at UNMC pursued trials with LASER ART, while Khalili at Temple University had been tampering with CRISPR technology for five years.

They combined their efforts to attempt complete elimination of the virus. And their lofty goal required a unique approach.

Khalili said he treated HIV as a genetic disease: Once the virus infects a subject, the viral genome enters into the chromosome and becomes a “bad gene,” he said.

Combination therapy was a prime way to attack HIV from both angles: Slow its spread first with LASER ART, then edit it out completely with CRISPR.

To confirm they’d eradicated the virus, a process that took years, Gendelman told CNN the team examined every “nook and cranny” of the mice’s tissue where infected cells may lurk.

The results are proof that elimination of HIV is possible—but they’re just a first step, not a leap straight to cure, he cautioned.

“We’re landing on the moon,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you made it to Mars yet.”

Khalili’s labs have been working on a version of the study with primates, though it’ll take between 9 months to one year to discern if the virus is eradicated. A paper based on the short-term results of gene editing in primates could be published within the year, he said.

If their methods continue to prove successful, clinical trials could follow as soon as next summer, he said.


Recent attempts to cure HIV have sparked hope


Hope for a cure swelled in March when researchers announced a second person had been effectively rid of HIV after a stem cell transplant successfully eliminated any trace of the virus from his blood.

Both patients, known as the London and Berlin patients, were treated with stem cell transplants from donors born with the CCR5 genetic mutation that made them resistant to the virus. The men, already infected with HIV, were diagnosed with forms of cancer when they received the treatment.

The London patient had been in sustained remission for 18 months at the time the article was published, researchers said.

In 2018, an HIV vaccine concept got the go-ahead for further testing after a study found it induced an immune response in humans and monkeys. Its effectiveness in protecting humans from the virus is still unknown.

Having fun and raising funds

Over the past few months, the Datesand team have taken part in several events raising money for a number of charitable causes close to our hearts.

In June, we decided to take part in the Alzheimer’s Society Cupcake Day. The team baked a selection of delicious cakes and each cake was bought for a generous donation. We also had a few fun games on like guessing the height of the cupcake stack and Dingbats to raise some extra funds. We managed to raise over £100 for the Alzheimer’s society on the day – a great team effort!














At the end of the June, local radio station Hits Radio Manchester joined up with their Cash for Kids and Tackle4MCR for #FootballFriday – a day where businesses and schools in the area could turn up in their team colours and raise money to try and help to tackle youth homelessness in Greater Manchester. We managed to bring the two sides of Manchester together and have a fun day with some activities such as a penalty shootout, keepie-uppies and a ‘pub quiz’, raising £70 altogether.


Alanah, our Social Media Executive, also did her bit for a fantastic charity, donating more than just money! Inspired by Karen, she cut off and donated 13 inches of her hair for the Little Princess Trust. In the build-up to the chop, she raised £525 for the cause. This allows them to create a wig for a young girl who has lost her hair due to chemotherapy or any other illness and provided them with money they need to fund the process.

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You can find out more about all of these charities and do your bit to help by visiting the following websites: 

Listen up!

Datesand’s resident rockstar, Sebastian Fortuna has released a brand new track titled ‘Manchester City’.


As a Manchester-based business, we are extra proud to share this epic track with you.

If you would like to have a listen, this song as well as Seb’s 2018 album ‘Zapach Boga’ can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and Amazon Music.

Tours and trade at University of Cambridge’s Stunning Anne McLaren Facility

On 9th July, Datesand were invited to support the University of Cambridge Anne McLaren building Open Days. It was an honour to be a part of this event and spend time with so many passionate industry professionals in a truly fantastic facility.


















The open days lasted 3 days with over 250 industry colleagues attending the tours put on by the brilliant staff. Each tour lasted around 90 minutes and gave a great insight into how the most up-to-date equipment and robotic cage handling system were being used. 

During the tours, we were stationed within the clean bedding stores and got a chance to explain why our premium EcoPure Aspen chips 4 bedding was chosen and how the large bedding totes will be used with the automated dispensing system.

Following the tours, there was a great opportunity to grab some tea and coffee around the trade stands. Here we got to display the fantastic Datesand range and speak to a host of new faces as well as some industry friends.