Health and Medicine
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Clinical trials are the main way for scientists and doctors to test whether new treatments, such as drugs or devices, are safe and effective. Because of their pivotal importance in influencing treatment options and patient care, clinical trials must be conducted to the highest standards. For drugs, this means they are required to be proven safe and effective before they can gain government approval.
The arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to all parts the body. Arterial stiffness, which describes the rigidity of the arteries’ walls, has been shown to increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death across the globe. As such, investigating the factors linked to arterial stiffness is critical, as it could help doctors to identify those at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Our working memory can be described as a mental sticky note, where we hold bits of information for short periods of time. Working memory is an important function for everyday life, used for many tasks including following directions, holding conversations and solving problems of all kinds. Often, working memory – and problem-solving – can be improved by training.
Professor Thomas Feuerstein | Using Mathematical Modelling to Understand Acute Heart Failure Treatment
Cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death around the globe. Heart failure is a particular type of cardiovascular disease, which occurs when the heart is not able to pump blood around the body as well as it should. Over 26 million people in the world are currently affected by heart failure and this number is increasing every year.
The liver plays a vital role in keeping us healthy, by controlling levels of sugars and fats in our blood, as well as clearing the blood of toxins. Chronic liver disease affects around 25% of the population and is reported to be the third largest cause of premature death in the UK. Liver disease can occur as the result of long-term consumption of alcohol or viral hepatitis, but the fastest growing cause is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The influenza virus – commonly known as flu – is a serious public health concern. There are an estimated 1 billion cases of influenza each year, causing approximately 650,000 deaths globally.
Professor Nicholas Washmuth | Professor Richard Stephens – The Power of Words: Could Swearing Be a Useful Therapeutic Tool for Physiotherapists?
Words change how people think, feel, and behave. As such, the words that medical professionals use have the potential to improve or worsen how patients feel. In physiotherapy, language may be just as important as physical interventions for achieving positive outcomes. So, what about swear words? While most of us swear sometimes and taboo words have been around since language emerged, their potential benefits are often ignored due to controversy and negative associations. Professors Nicholas Washmuth and Richard Stephens argue we should change this. In the right circumstances, they believe that swearing can significantly improve patient outcomes.
Antimicrobial drugs treat infections by killing or slowing the growth of the responsible pathogens. However, antimicrobial resistance occurs when the bacteria develop defence mechanisms against the very drugs intended to kill them. Infections due to resistant bacteria can be extremely difficult and even impossible to treat, meaning that antimicrobial resistance presents a major threat to animal, environmental and human health.
Extracellular biophysical cues have a profound influence on a wide range of cell behaviors, including growth, motility, differentiation, apoptosis, gene expression, adhesion, and signal transduction. Cells not only respond to definitively mechanical cues from the extracellular matrix (ECM) but can also sometimes alter the mechanical properties of the matrix and hence influence subsequent matrix-based cues in both physiological and pathological processes. Interactions between cells and materials in vitro can modify cell phenotype and ECM structure, whether intentionally or inadvertently. Interactions between cell and matrix mechanics in vivo are of particular importance in a wide variety of disorders, including cancer, central nervous system injury, fibrotic diseases, and myocardial infarction. Both the in vitro and in vivo effects of this coupling between mechanics and biology hold important implications for clinical applications.
In the early stages of drug development, an important focus for researchers is the risk of drug-induced cardiovascular effects. More commonly known as an abnormal heart rhythm, arrhythmia is a term used to describe when the heart is beating too quickly, too slowly or irregularly. The consequences of arrhythmia can be fatal.
Diagnosing viral infections, such as COVID-19, can be challenging. The most accurate way to identify a virus is by detecting its genetic information, but viruses are merely a tiny packet of genes encased in a protein shell. When a virus has infected a host, such as a human body, identifying viral genes amongst the host’s genes is like finding a needle in a haystack. However, scientists have a trick – to make copies of the needle, until needles outnumber the hay straws. This is called nuclear acid amplification, which forms the basis for the gold-standard PCR test for COVID-19. Dr Xiushan Yin and his colleagues at the Shenyang University of Chemical Technology have been further refining this amazing technology to help tackle COVID-19.
Computational modelling allows researchers to simulate and study complex systems – including disease – at multiple levels, powered by significant achievements in computing power and software. Dr Jacob Barhak is an independent Computational Disease Modeller. He draws on his multidisciplinary expertise to help machines comprehend healthcare.
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