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
Collagen nanofibrils in mammalian tissues get stronger with exercise
14.12.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering
New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule
12.12.2018 | UT Southwestern Medical Center
Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.
Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
18.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy