Glyoxalase Centennial meeting spurs new European research group

Last year a group of researchers came together at a Biochemical Society-sponsored Focused Meeting to celebrate 100 years since the discovery of glyoxalase. What emerged was not just an exciting opportunity to discuss the latest in research findings, but a brand new collaborative research group to take the study of glyoxalase forward.

Meeting organizer Dr Naila Rabbani (University of Warwick, UK) reports on the meeting and following success. If you want to propose your own subject for a Biochemical Society conference, you can apply today.


It has been 100 years since the discovery of the glyoxalase system, a metabolic pathway common to all – or nearly all – life forms. The history of the glyoxalase system has taken many turns and, 100 years on, continues to do so. Initially and incorrectly thought to be part of mainstream glucose metabolism in the 1930s, the glyoxalase system has re-emerged in the last 20 years or so as the system countering an otherwise unavoidable damaging aspect of glucose metabolism.

It has been an area I have spent the last 15 years studying and together with Professor Paul Thornalley, who has been working on glyoxalase for about 30 years, we have organised three Biochemical Society-sponsored meetings on the subject.

The latest, in November 2013, celebrated a particularly special event – the Glyoxalase Centennial Focused Meeting at the University of Warwick; it being a 100 years since the discovery of glyoxalase.

The centennial meeting was a memorable occasion attended by 100 delegates from the UK, Europe, India, Far East and North & South America – a truly international gathering. The delegates were mostly from academia – life and biomedical sciences – with some delegates also from pharmaceutical, food and scientific instrument manufacturing companies.

Their work has linked glyoxalase to longevity, protection from heart disease, diabetes and renal failure, and multidrug resistant tumours. Yet the impact of glyoxalase is far wider – as evident in the diverse range of topics in the conference programme.

After a very successful meeting, every speaker submitted their papers for publication to Biochemical Society Transactions and a collaborative research group was formed to take glyoxalase research forward. An application to Horizon2020 is now in progress that includes eight European partners.

A proposal to form a new study group of the European Association to Study Diabetes (EASD) on the role of reactive metabolites in diabetes – reactive dicarbonyls and reactive oxygen species – was submitted to the EASD President. This was provisionally accepted and start-up mini-symposium of the EASD Reactive Metabolite Study Group will be held at the forthcoming 50th EASD annual meeting in Vienna, 14 September this year.

The aims of the study group are to define the contribution of reactive metabolites to health impairment, share best practice of analytical measurements, discuss mechanistic involvement in the development of diabetes and related complications, and facilitate the development of related therapeutic and diagnostic approaches.

This Focused Meeting, as before, was sponsored by the Biochemical Society. Their continued support is greatly appreciated and has facilitated dissemination of findings to other fields and many further investigators to the filed. As evident, the meeting has spurned new-found collaborations and a chance to push glyoxalase research even further forward.


Want to propose your own conference? The Biochemical Society can provide financial support, full secretariat services and publish proceedings of events in Biochemical Society Transactions, giving your meeting and speakers’ research worldwide exposure. Visit our website for more information.

Want to know more about the Glyoxalase Centennial Focused Meeting. View videos from it on our YouTube Channel.

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