Health and Medicine
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Dr Ilida Ortega Asencio | Template-driven Electrospinning: A Smart Manufacturing Approach to Treating Skin Injuries
Human skin acts as an important line of defence against the external environment. To preserve this important function, the regeneration of injured skin is critical. Scientists are now able to artificially replicate aspects of the complex microenvironment in which human skin stem cells reside thanks to the technological advances in the field of biomaterial devices. Dr Ilida Ortega Asencio, from the University of Sheffield, UK, and her team have developed a new approach in which electrospun patches with defined microenvironments can be functionalised with key compounds to aid the formation of new blood vessels in injured skin.
Chemotherapy, one of the mainstays of cancer treatment, can unfortunately act as a double-edged sword. While achieving the intended aim of killing cancerous cells, it also generates an accumulation of cell debris, which in turn, promotes tumour growth by stimulating inflammation in the tumour microenvironment. Dr Dipak Panigrahy and his colleagues from Harvard Medical School, USA, have conducted several studies in mice showing that targeting the tumour cell debris-mediated surge of proinflammatory and protumourigenic factors provides a strategy for enhancing the efficacy of chemotherapy.
Children and youth who experience trauma often develop posttraumatic stress symptoms, and some go on to develop posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Toria Herd from the Pennsylvania State University, US, is exploring the factors that put adolescents at risk of developing PTSD and also those that may protect against this consequence associated with trauma exposure. Her findings have important implications for the trauma-informed care of young people and the reduction of the long-term impact of trauma on individuals and families.
Professor Manoj Sharma | The Multi-theory Model (MTM) of Health Behavior Change: Understanding the Determinants of Breast Cancer Screening
The multi-theory model (MTM) of health behavior change provides a theoretical framework for understanding and promoting health behaviors. Professor Manoj Sharma from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the originator of this model, has applied this model to breast cancer and undertaking mammography screening in women from groups underserved in current healthcare. His findings have important theoretical and practical implications.
Overcoming Challenges and Defining Successful Strategies: Setting up a Vital Biorepository in Sub-Saharan Africa
The UK-based Pregnancy Care Integrating Translational Science, Everywhere (PRECISE) Network has set up biorepositories across sub-Saharan Africa to investigate the causes of placental pregnancy complications and enhance research capacity. The project encountered several challenges relating to facilities, staffing, training, cultural barriers, procurement, shipping and sample storage which impacted project timings and budget. However, with appropriate training and infrastructure development, the researchers have shown that is possible to facilitate high-quality sample collection in this region. This important achievement provides vital encouragement in support of establishing further biorepositories in less affluent regions.
Dr Clara Pelfrey – Dr Linda Scholl | Charting How Research Leads from Discoveries to Improved Health
Interventions designed to improve health, including targeted drugs and medical devices, typically undergo a complex and lengthy process of development. In a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cornell University, the National Institutes of Health and Case Western Reserve University in the USA, experts Dr Clara Pelfrey, Dr Linda Scholl and colleagues have designed a case study protocol to improve understanding of this process.
Dr Jozelin María Soto-Alarcón – Dr Diana Xóchitl González-Gómez | The Use of Communal Land by Rural Women in Mexico
The inability to access land is a major cause of poverty in agricultural societies. Women, who are less likely to own, rent, buy or inherit land, are particularly affected and access to communal land may provide a vital lifeline. Dr Jozelin María Soto-Alarcón and Dr Diana Xóchitl González-Gómez set out to investigate the use of communal land in a rural community in Mexico, investigating the strategies used by a collective of women to achieve access to this critical resource.
Caitlin Calio – Ann Higgins-D’Alessandro | Understanding the Experiences of Typically Developing Siblings of People with Autism
While research into the experiences of people with autism and their families is flourishing, there remains relatively little research on the experiences of typically developing siblings, particularly those on the brink of adulthood. Ms Caitlin Calio, Masters of Teaching, and Professor Ann Higgins-D’Alessandro at Fordham University in the USA, are dedicated to overcoming this important knowledge gap to help inform both theory and the development of appropriate practical support.
Professor Zygmunt Pizlo at the University of California-Irvine has advanced degrees in both engineering and psychology. He is drawing on his extensive experience in these often disparate fields to explore how fundamentals in physics can explain how we see the world around us. His novel work extrapolating from the importance of symmetry in physics and the natural world opens up exciting possibilities for psychology and cognitive science.
Military veterans are diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder at a much higher rate than civilians. There is a growing interest in psychiatric assistance dog placements to help veterans cope with their symptoms, however research into their effectiveness is limited. Sarah Leighton and her colleagues from Purdue University and the University of Arizona have undertaken a review of the existing evidence surrounding these partnerships to determine their efficacy. Whilst more detailed and robust research is still needed, they found positive support for this intervention.
Most human diseases are localised in terms of their location but currently, injected or orally administered drugs are evenly distributed all over the body and thus, act indiscriminately. The targeted delivery of medication to the exact site where it is needed is a common theme in science fiction but thanks to Professor Richard Klemke and his team at the University of California San Diego’s Moores Cancer Center, this fantasy may soon become a reality.
Professor Michael Bukrinsky | Human Immunodeficiency Virus Co-morbidities: How Lipid Homeostasis Alterations Lead to Cardiovascular and Neurological Disorders
Although human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is still prevalent worldwide, life-saving antiretroviral drugs can now prevent an infection from progressing into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Nevertheless, people who are HIV-positive are still at increased risk of developing neurological disorders and cardiovascular diseases, known as co-morbidities. Professor Michael Bukrinsky from the George Washington University in Washington DC works to understand the underlying biological mechanisms that lead to these disorders. His research has produced interesting results that demonstrate the role of altered lipid (cholesterol) homeostasis in HIV-infected cells and how this comes to pass.
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