Explaining our research on the BBC

The university’s Diabetes Research Group (DRB) featured on BBC South East’s Inside Out programme on 27 February.

Professor Adrian Bone, Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology and Head of the DRB, and his team explained cutting-edge research being undertaken at the university to improve treatment for a disease that, for Type 1 diabetes alone, affects 10,000 people in the South East.

To watch the programme go to the BBC’s iPlayer service and scan along to 17.40 mins.

BSS and NSS Survey

Unless you have been avoiding emails, not coming into university and not talking to anyone in the School you will, no doubt, be aware that the all undergraduate students are being asked to give their feedback on their university experience to date via either the Brighton Student Survey or the National Student Survey. This feedback is extremely important to both the school and university and helps us make changes for you.

You can read about some of the changes we made this academic year as a consequence of feedback from last year please do have a look at the your voice matters blog (https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/yourvoicematters/school-of-pharmacy-and-biomolecular-sciences/ )

The Brighton Student Survey (BSS)

The BSS is the School and University’s main opportunity to gather feedback from all level 4 and 5 students so that we can understand what we are doing well and what we can improve.  The BSS is opened on Monday 6 February and will close at midnight on Monday 6 March, if you haven’t yet, please do take 10 minutes to complete the survey – there are only a few days left and every response matters. Completing the survey automatically enters you into a prize draw with the opportunity to win a £200 voucher from the university.

How do I complete the survey?

The National Student Survey (NSS)

The National Student Survey (NSS) is commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and is a national survey, undertaken by Ipsos MORI, which gathers the views of all final year undergraduates about what it has been like to study their course at their institution.

The survey comprises 27 questions in the survey cover teaching, assessment and feedback, learning opportunities, academic support, organisation and management, learning resources, personal development, and the student voice. There are also questions about careers, course delivery, work placements, welfare resources and facilities, social opportunities and overall satisfaction.

How do I complete the survey?

Because the school would really like to receive feedback from as many students as possible we have decided to donate £100 to the student society associated with the course that has the highest proportion of their students completing both the BSS and NSS so your society could receive up to £200 for 10 minutes of your time.

New insight into aged-related hearing loss

Scientists at the University of Brighton have moved a step closer to understanding the underlying cause of age-related hearing loss which affects 11 million people in the UK.
Hearing loss is believed to originate in non-sensory cells in the cochlea, the auditory portion of the inner ear containing the organ which produces nerve impulses in response to sound.
The cells are coupled together by ‘gap junctions’ which are formed of two proteins called connexin 26 and connexin 30. It is mutations or failures in these proteins that cause most cases of hearing loss.
However, experiments by our Sensory Neuroscience Research Group have shown that one particular mutation in the connexion 30 protein actually prevents deafness to high-frequency sound.
Professor Ian Russell, Professor of Neurobiology here at university and a member of the group, said: “This was a great surprise: The mutation should have impaired the function of the cochlea, not aided it.”
He said: “Other members of the research team are now making direct measurements from these supporting cells to understand how the mutation changes the properties of the gap junctions. They should obtain measurements that will enable us to understand how the mutation alters the electrical and mechanical properties of the cochlea and eventually lead to our understanding how sensitivity is preserved in a cochlea that would otherwise be decimated by age-related-hearing-loss.”
The Sensory Neuroscience Research Group’s findings were published on 21 February in Nature Communication. Continue reading

Raynaud’s Awareness Month

Raynaud’s phenomenon is extremely common, with 1 in 6 people affected, and up to 10 million people thought to be actively suffering in the UK. Characterised by the over response to a change in condition, seen in the colour change in the extremities. Commonly the colour change, of white to blue to red, is seen in the fingers and toes, but it can be seen in other areas such as the nose, ears and nipples. This over active response causes pain and discomfort and can make daily life much more of a struggle, due to a lack of dexterity.

Raynaud’s is diagnosed as one of two forms, primary Raynaud’s and secondary Raynaud’s, the latter being more complex. Primary Raynaud’s is manageable and is the milder form caused by disruption of the nervous systems control of blood vessels, leading to arterial spasms and blood flow deficiencies. Secondary Raynaud’s is often linked and associated with autoimmune disorders, such as Scleroderma and Lupus. This form can have complications such as ulceration of the fingers and toes, which can be excruciating, and any infection can be extremely serious. A sufferer from secondary Raynaud’s, Miss Gardner, described an attack as “extremely painful, and for me it feels like my hands are on fire. The length of duration can vary extremely, from 5 minutes to an hour, but any duration is debilitating and very uncomfortable.” Why this syndrome occurs is still relatively unknown. However, triggers have been identified, including changes in; temperature, emotions, stress and hormones. The latter three illustrating its higher commonality in young women and girls.

Diagnosis of Raynaud’s is relatively simple. A blood test is usually carried out by your GP, with further checks for autoimmune disorders needed to distinguish if you suffer from primary or secondary Raynaud’s. A water test may also be carried out, where the hands and/or feet are immersed in water of around 15 degrees Celsius and then the ability of the body to respond to the cold is observed.

In the UK, there is only one licensed drug for treatment, Nifedipine. This acts as a calcium channel blocker, dilating the smaller blood vessels and thus preventing the painful attacks. Other treatment methods act in similar ways, however they are not licensed for prescription in the UK. Lifestyle changes are suggested, such as relaxation techniques and generally keeping warm!

For more information, visit Scleroderma and Raynaud’s UK at: https://www.sruk.co.uk

Together for Tinnitus

This week, February the 6th to 12th, is Tinnitus awareness week, aiming to raise GP’s awareness and to provoke the discussion of this wide spread condition.  Described as the ‘sensation of hearing a sound in the absence of any external sound” – British Tinnitus Association, the sound can be heard in one or both of the ears and can be extremely disruptive. 30% of people will experience tinnitus at some point in their lives, but only 10% will experience tinnitus permanently.

Tinnitus is not a disease or illness, but is caused by a change mentally or physically, and can be triggered from an ear infection to a TBI (traumatic brain injury). 1 in 10 tinnitus sufferers have suffered a head injury previous to the onset. Either of these cause a change in the transmission of hearing information to the brain, usually a lack of, causing the brain to attempt to acquire more information from the ears. It is this extra information that is tinnitus, therefore tinnitus is activity of the brain not the ears, as it previously was thought to be.

A rare form of tinnitus found in those suffering from hearing loss who have an interest or ability with music, as musical tinnitus or musical hallucination (MH). The tinnitus seems like a familiar song that sounds exactly as it did before the decrease in hearing ability. MH is more common in those who also have epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease, but it has been linked to the use of certain medication and brain tumours. It is often a concern to those that suffer and those around them that MH is psychosomatic, however this is extremely rarely the cause, with the only link proven to be with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Tinnitus often fades, and those that permanently experience it learn to treat it as background noise and can live completely undisrupted lives. Treatment is available, such as Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and TRT. TRT, or tinnitus retraining therapy, is the use of particular levels of sound to reduce the prioritisation of the tinnitus noise, with the treatment of tinnitus known as habituation. Elements of this method are used by many professionals however as a stand-alone therapy, its effectiveness is yet to be proven.

By this point, you may be thinking, how does this affect me, as a younger individual or one that has no hearing problems at all, however the BTA

suggest you “Plug-em”. A new prevention campaign aimed at to raise awareness that tinnitus can be prevented by the protection of our very delicate ears.

For more information on tinnitus, how you can support BTA and the “Plug-em” campaign visit the BTA website: https://www.tinnitus.org.uk

National Student Money Week 2017 is here!

 

We all know that dreaded feeling of checking your bank balance, and it kindly greeting you by being severely less than expected, but fear not National Student Money Week is here with advice and tips on how to make that student loan stretch further.

This year’s NSMW is themed ‘Waste not, want not’, and there are plenty of activities university wide. Information stands will be popping up across all campuses, offering advice from SSGT’s and the Careers service. If you fancy being a bit more hands on this NSMW, a cooking competition is also being run, with the opportunity to win a food hamper.

Further details of the competition, daily NSMW updates, and where the information stands will be can be found on the Student Advice Service blog: http://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/studentadviceservice/nsmw

Volunteer at the Brighton Science Festival

Brighton Science Festival relies on volunteers to run shows and interactive workshops for kids and adults. Check out the website http://www.brightonscience.com/get-involved/

They need volunteers on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th of Feb and the half term week between Saturday 11th and Sunday 19th February.

Get involved by emailing briscivol@gmail.com and say you want to help.