Health and Medicine

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Dr Mary Hornick – Dr Ashley Stefanski |  Exploring the Potential of Hallucinogens for Treating Opioid Use Disorder

Dr Mary Hornick – Dr Ashley Stefanski | Exploring the Potential of Hallucinogens for Treating Opioid Use Disorder

Opioid use disorder has been on the rise in the USA, fueled by an increased availability of fentanyl and other opioids. Current gold-standard treatments involve using opioid agonist drugs, such as methadone or buprenorphine alone or in combination with opioid antagonists, to address cravings and withdrawal. However, these treatments suffer from high levels of patient relapse and can pose safety risks. A promising alternative lies in using hallucinogenic compounds that can enable ‘neuroplasticity’, which means changing the brain’s neural architecture, potentially allowing patients to overcome their addictive behaviors.

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Dr Mariëlle Stel – Janina Eggers – Dr Wladimir Alonso | Promoting a Plant-based Transition to Reduce Zoonotic Diseases

Dr Mariëlle Stel – Janina Eggers – Dr Wladimir Alonso | Promoting a Plant-based Transition to Reduce Zoonotic Diseases

Zoonotic diseases are infections that are transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa. For example, COVID-19 has been designated as a zoonotic disease. In fact, three-quarters of all new infectious human diseases originate in animals, making zoonotic diseases a major threat to public health. The rapid rise in intensive farming over the past 50 years has significantly increased the risk of zoonosis. For instance, the world’s chicken population has almost tripled since 1990, with most of these birds being farmed indoors in crowded conditions. Not only are these conditions stressful for the animals, but poultry farming is responsible for hundreds of human deaths caused by bird flu.

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Professor Amy MacNeill | Combining a Virus and Immunotherapy to Treat Cancer in Dogs

Professor Amy MacNeill | Combining a Virus and Immunotherapy to Treat Cancer in Dogs

Soft-tissue sarcomas are a common type of tumor found in dogs, which can arise in connective, muscle, or nervous tissues. These soft-tissue cancers typically require surgical removal, but often grow back if some cancer cells remain. Using a therapeutic virus could help to reduce the possibility of the tumor regrowing. However, no such viruses are available to treat dogs, and canine cancer cells can generate specific biomolecules, such as interferons, that inhibit viral replication. One option may be to co-treat the dogs with a drug that inhibits the action of interferons while administering the virus, to maximize the chances of success.

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Dr Mats Ljungman | KLIPP: Targeting Cancer with CRISPR

Dr Mats Ljungman | KLIPP: Targeting Cancer with CRISPR

Cancer treatments are designed to kill cells within a tumor, but they often affect healthy tissues, leading to serious side-effects. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop new approaches that specifically aim for targets that are unique for tumor cells. A common and early event in carcinogenesis is the formation of chromosomal structural variants. These rearrangements are unique for each tumor and contribute to the growth of the tumor. Structural variants in cancer cells create unique junctions of DNA sequences, which are typically located far apart in normal cells. Thus, these junctions represent a promising new target for precision cancer treatment.

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Dorothy Goulah-Pabst | Navigating Suicide Loss: A Survivor Study

Dorothy Goulah-Pabst | Navigating Suicide Loss: A Survivor Study

Those left behind after the suicide of a loved one often experience complex grief that can involve feelings of self-blame, abandonment and rejection. The stigma surrounding suicide can also underly rejection by their community, further increasing the psychological burden that survivors face. Understanding the challenges of suicide loss survivors, and identifying the most effective ways to support them, is important in helping survivors to heal and move forward with their lives. Towards this aim, Dorothy Goulah-Pabst from California State University Northridge conducted a study to learn more about the experiences of suicide loss survivors.

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Damian Nowak – Adam Bachorz – Professor Marcin Hoffmann | Using Machine Learning to Discover New Medicines

Damian Nowak – Adam Bachorz – Professor Marcin Hoffmann | Using Machine Learning to Discover New Medicines

Many researchers today are dedicated to the discovery of new medicines. Over the past few decades, their tireless efforts have culminated in a database of around 100 million known drug molecules. This value may already sound vast, but by current estimates, the true number of small drug-like molecules could actually range anywhere between 1023 – already more than the number of grains of sand on Earth – and 1060 – comparable to the number of atoms in an entire galaxy. With existing approaches, researchers ultimately need to test the medical potential of these molecules individually, taking up vast amounts of time and computing power.

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Professor Michael Belin | New Tools for Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Keratoconus

Professor Michael Belin | New Tools for Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Keratoconus

Keratoconus is an eye disease affecting millions of individuals worldwide. The condition causes the transparent layer on the front of the eye, named the cornea, to become progressively thinner and irregularly shaped. Keratoconus causes distorted or blurred vision, increases light sensitivity, and can severely impact one’s ability to function. The first signs of keratoconus typically emerge in children as young as 8 years old. However, the disease usually remains undiagnosed until several years later, due to a lack of reliable screening tests and the tendency of affected individuals to only seek help when their vision has become significantly impaired.

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Dr. Ameer Hassan | Could N-Acetylglucosamine Be an Effective Treatment for COVID-19?

Dr. Ameer Hassan | Could N-Acetylglucosamine Be an Effective Treatment for COVID-19?

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact patients worldwide, it remains crucial to explore innovative treatments that can further improve prognosis. While vaccines have been successful in providing protection for the majority of the population, recent waves of the virus have highlighted challenges such as decreased vaccine protection, leaving certain individuals vulnerable to severe illness and even death. The ongoing challenges of low vaccine uptake and public complacency emphasize the need for continued research into effective therapies for COVID-19.

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Professor Robyn S. Klein | Understanding Neuroprotection in Viral and Autoimmune Diseases of the Central Nervous System

Professor Robyn S. Klein | Understanding Neuroprotection in Viral and Autoimmune Diseases of the Central Nervous System

Viral and autoimmune diseases of the central nervous system – or ‘CNS’ – are often characterized by the onset of inflammation leading to neurological dysfunction, including impairments in memory and cognition. Dr. Robyn Klein at Western University in London, Ontario leads a team that specializes in neuroinflammatory diseases of the CNS. In recent years, her laboratory has been focusing on the molecular mechanisms behind inflammation and how they regulate blood-brain barrier permeability in viral and autoimmune diseases.

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Dr Alexandros Grammatis | The Role of Sperm Quality in IVF Outcomes

Dr Alexandros Grammatis | The Role of Sperm Quality in IVF Outcomes

In vitro fertilisation – or IVF – has allowed many couples with fertility issues to conceive. However, the relationships between different types of infertility and IVF outcomes are not yet fully understood. Male infertility can include non‐obstructive azoospermia, where sperm are not present in the ejaculate, and oligozoospermia, also known as a ‘low sperm count’. Men with these conditions can still have biological children through techniques such as surgical retrieval of sperm from the testes, in the case of azoospermia, and subsequent injection of an individual sperm into an egg cell. Identifying the effects of male infertility phenomena on subsequent IVF and pregnancy outcomes is important, so that couples can make informed decisions.

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Dr Rogier Hopstaken | A Simple Point-of-Care Test to Combat Antibiotic Resistance

Dr Rogier Hopstaken | A Simple Point-of-Care Test to Combat Antibiotic Resistance

While antibiotics are an essential tool for treating disease, their effectiveness in preventing severe illness and death is under threat. Antibiotic resistance is now one of the biggest dangers to global health. When a bacterial infection is treated with antibiotics, certain bacteria in a patient may hold genetic mutations that allow them to evade destruction. These resistant bacteria can become more severe and spread further, requiring stronger antibiotics or potentially leading to the patient’s death. Around 5 million deaths were related to antibiotic resistance in 2019 alone, and cases are predicted to rise.

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Dr Kerstin Kleinschmidt-Doerr | Could R399E Become a Potential Treatment for Restoring Joints and Relieving Pain in Osteoarthritis?

Dr Kerstin Kleinschmidt-Doerr | Could R399E Become a Potential Treatment for Restoring Joints and Relieving Pain in Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a painful and debilitating condition that affects hundreds of millions of people. The condition significantly affects a patient’s mobility, sleep, and ability to work, ultimately impacting their quality of life and mental health. Treatments involve exercise or medication to reduce pain, but they don’t target underlying structural problems in the joints. Additionally, these treatments do not slow or stop the progression of the disease, and may have serious side-effects on organs such as the liver, kidneys or heart. The search for a treatment that can reduce osteoarthritis pain and treat the affected joint structures remains a ‘substantial unmet medical need’.

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