In an unusual move, Dr. Declan Bates, a senior lecturer in the Department of Engineering at the University of Leicester, is co-recipient of £1,068,000 in the form of just two research grants: one from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the other from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
The grants are shared between academics at Leicester and Nottingham and Aberdeen.
The first will be used to examine how lung injury can be prevented in patients who are on ventilators; the second, to investigate a potential target for future cancer treatments.
“These may seem worlds apart -especially for an engineer, but they’re united by a common factor – feedback control theory – which of course is a science in its own right,” said Dr Bates.
He added: “It might seem odd that a life-support machine can cause injury, but this is actually not uncommon. The majority of critically ill patients in Intensive Therapy Units (ITU) spend some time with their lungs ventilated using a mechanical ventilator or “life-support machine”. However, mechanical ventilation exposes patients’ lungs to potentially damaging positive pressures, and as a result, ventilator-associated lung injury (VALI) is a common and significant occurrence. Prolonged stays in the ITU may be generated, pneumonia may be precipitated and lifelong lung scarring may result. The scale of the problem is such that 2.9% of people receiving mechanical ventilation suffer VALI each year, which represents several thousand individuals in the UK each year.
Dr Bates will be looking at these problems in terms of feedback control in order to find ways to optimally adjust the ventilators to allow them to do their job better while minimising injury. This is highly complicated, and previous attempts have had to rely on ‘idealised’ subjects. Dr Bates will perform population modelling, making his findings applicable to real patients.
With the second grant, Dr Bates will investigate how biochemical pathways are regulated in human cells, which could lead to improved anti-cancer drugs.
A class of molecules called polyamines are crucial to the health of the cells in your body. Cells normally regulate polyamine levels very tightly as changes in their concentrations can cause the cells to die, become cancerous, or give rise to other diseases.
Understanding how various biological control processes interact to keep everything on an even keel is a tall order, and one that can only be addressed with the new field of Systems Biology.
Dr Bates will draw on the expertise of biologists and control engineers to mathematically model the pathways involved. This will teach us how the control systems operate and how cells stay healthy, but should ultimately lead to therapies specific to the problems that arise when they go wrong.
Dr. Bates says:
“This interdisciplinary approach is required as a direct response to the complexity of the mechanisms being studied, which renders standard biological approaches inadequate.”
Ather Mirza | alfa
Speed data for the brain’s navigation system
06.12.2016 | Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V. (DZNE)
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering