Lipids resource maps out move to UK

13 July 2016

Lipids

Our understanding of the role of lipids in the development of diseases such as heart disease and dementia is about to get a boost as a UK-led consortium receives a £1.3m grant to host the world’s largest curated lipid database and associated resources.

The new grant, awarded by Wellcome, will allow Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute; the Babraham Institute, Cambridge; and the University of California San Diego (UCSD) to continue the important work of identifying and analysing lipids – the molecules our bodies use to regulate normal processes such as blood clotting, fighting infection and development.

The project, named LIPID MAPS, will continue the work of a database and resource started in 2003 by Professor Ed Dennis at UCSD which collated more than 40,000 structures, and developed a new lipid classification system now used by lipid researchers worldwide.

Professor Valerie O'Donnell from the University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute and lead applicant said:  "There is a huge amount we still don’t know relating to how many unique lipids our cells contain and how these change during development and disease. To further our understanding it’s essential that we have collaborative open access resources such as LIPID MAPS.”

Professot Michael Wakelam, Director of the Babraham Institute, Cambridge and co-applicant on the grant said:  "This essential resource will help us to find families of lipids that have never been seen before and discover new lipids that are involved in disease processes. The Wellcome Trust grant will be transformational in allowing essential development work for the site so that it can best serve the academic lipid community worldwide.”

In addition to allowing researchers to further develop the work of LIPID MAPS, the £1.3m grant will also see the resource moved to the UK and its internationally recognised classification system preserved.

This premier website, which was used by 77,000 users in the last year alone, from virtually all countries, will provide essential support for UK and worldwide lipid analytical centres and help advance the fast developing field of lipidomics.

From 2017, the resource will be housed jointly between Cardiff University and the Babraham Institute, and will be co-managed by the three participating organisations.