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Prof Christian Eggeling and Dr Erdinc Sezgin at the MRC HIU and Dr Gunes Ozhan from Dokuz Eylul University were awarded a Newton Institutional Links Grant by the British Council.

Wnt/β-catenin signalling is a molecular pathway with essential roles in development, regeneration and immunology. Patients where this pathway is disturbed can suffer from a variety of diseases, including cancer. The development of new therapies is impaired by a lack of fundamental understanding of how the Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway works, and how it misfunctions in a disease context.

It is particularly poorly understood how the Wnt receptor complex, which is located in the membrane of cell (the plasma membrane), is able to connect to its binding partner, or ligand, in order to initiate the pathway. The project led by Prof Christian Eggeling and Dr Erdinc Sezgin from MRC Human Immunology Unit (Radcliffe Department of Medicine, UK) and Dr Gunes Ozhan (iBG-izmir, Dokuz Eylul University, Turkey) will take advantage of the two groups’ expertise in biophysics, molecular modelling and the developmental biology of Wnt signalling pathway to dissect how the binding takes place, and how the plasma membrane environment can regulates this process. The work will provide an important basis for the development of future drugs that can help modulate these interactions in a disease context.

The British Council’s Newton Institutional Links Grant support thedevelopment of research and innovation collaborations between the UK and partner countries, facilitating research that tackles local development challenges. The researchers hope that this collaboration will help establish iBG-izmir as a hub for translating the outcomes of this project into new therapy strategies that will help fight cancer in Turkey and worldwide.


About the Newton Fund

This work was supported by the Institutional Links grant 352333122, under the Newton-Katip Celebi Fund partnership. The grant is funded by the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) and delivered by the British Council.

The Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships with 18 partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK Government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries.  
The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 15 UK delivery partners, which include the Research Councils, the UK Academies, the British Council, Innovate UK and the Met Office.  

For further information visit the Newton Fund website ( and follow via Twitter: @NewtonFund.