David, who recently completed his Biological Chemistry PhD at Durham University, has spent the last four years studying synthetic retinoids and their potential uses for treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. His postgraduate research, undertaken with Ph.D. supervisor Professor Andrew Whiting from Durham University’s School of Chemistry, was sponsored by High Force Research.

From his new base at High Force Research’s Wilton Centre laboratory in Teesside, David will continue his post-doctoral research which is being co-funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and High Force Research.

It is part of a new two year project, funded by the BBRSC and led by a team of scientists at the University of Aberdeen in conjunction with Durham University and High Force Research, that is researching a synthetic version of retinoic acid usually created from vitamin A – a vitamin most commonly found in a number of vegetables, including carrots and sprouts – which it is hoped may be used to treat neurological disorders.

In the body vitamin A is turned into retinoic acid, which then interacts with specific receptors in the brain and plays a role in the development of the human central nervous system. Scientists from the University of Aberdeen, Durham University and High Force Research have collaborated to design a synthetic version of retinoic acid that interacts with the body’s natural receptors in the brain in an even more powerful way than regular retinoic acid. It is hoped the research will contribute towards the development of therapeutics – primarily for Alzheimer’s but potentially Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Commenting on his new role, David said: “Having the opportunity to continue my postgraduate research thanks to the joint funding from the BBSRC and High Force Research is really exciting – and I’m thrilled to be joining the team at the Wilton Centre. It’s a privilege to be part of a research project that could have such a profound impact on how we treat neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.”

High Force Research’s Dr Neil Sim said, “We’re delighted to be welcoming David to the Wilton Centre. Whilst David will be focusing on the synthetic retinoid research project with Durham University and the University of Aberdeen, it will be great to have him working alongside our team and we’re looking forward to observing how his research progresses.”

The news follows a period of ongoing success and expansion for High Force Research. Located in the heart of the North East chemical industry, the company recently announced it was doubling the size of its 1018 sq. ft. laboratory at Redcar’s Wilton Centre which was originally in February 2016 after its existing Bowburn laboratory and office space became full to capacity.

Founded nearly three decades ago, High Force Research is one of the UK’s longest established chemical research companies. The company is expert in developing and scaling up complex syntheses of molecules used by researchers in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostics and chemical sectors.