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North teaches south a thing or two about science

26 Feb 2008

A Manchester academic is hiring a white van and taking a five-foot model on the road this weekend in a bid to get southern school children interested in molecular science.

Dr Steve Rossington, a postdoctoral researcher in The University of Manchester's School of Chemistry, tours schools around Greater Manchester, teaching pupils about how drugs work within the body.

Now the esteemed Royal Institution in London has invited him down to Sydenham School in Lewisham to unveil his giant model protein to southern secondary school pupils.

Dr Rossington will talk about how proteins and drugs have a 3D shape and it is fitting a drug into a shape of a protein that can often lead to a desired therapeutic effect.

To illustrate this, a giant plastic model of a protein molecule, nicknamed 'Boris', has been constructed by Dr Rossington.

He then uses models of traditional drugs – such as aspirin – and fits them inside Boris, highlighting the fact that only certain drugs bind to specific parts of a protein. This idea is then expanded to include the design of anti-cancer drugs.

Pupils are shown a computer simulation of an anti-cancer drug docking with a protein thought to be involved in the growth of cancerous cells. They are then challenged to produce their own molecular models of drugs and are invited to try and attach them to Boris.

Dr Rossington, who works within the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre (MIB) at The University of Manchester and the Centre for Molecular Drug Design (CMDD) at The University of Salford, said: "We're looking to inspire and invigorate students about science, as well as educating them about the concepts of drug therapy.

"A recent change in the GCSE syllabus in Applied Science highlights the issues of testing new drugs and we feel our show promotes awareness of this.

"Pupils are very curious when they first see Boris and those who are genuinely interested in science seem to love the show."

Boris and all Dr Rossington's laboratory equipment won't fit into his own car, so he has to hire a white Transit van to move his popular show around.

Dr Rossington will be performing his science show at Sydenham School on Saturday 1st March and starts at 10am.

Notes to editors

Photo and filming opportunities are available before the event in Manchester and also in London. Please contact Dr Rossington on 07854 281879 for more information.