Brighton researchers aiming to save the whale – and humans

University of Brighton scientists have discovered a more environmentally-friendly way of preventing man-made toxins from leaching into the water system – using living organisms.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), now banned by most countries including the UK (1981), are still posing serious health risks and are suspected of causing the death of a new-born orca which made headlines around the world earlier this year when its mother Tahlequah carried the dead calf for 17 days.

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My experience as a placement student at Kew

Why did I decide to complete a placement year?

A placement year!? A WHOLE year of my life! These were some of the things that I pondered long and hard about when deciding whether I wanted to apply for a placement year or not. I decided that I wanted to get some experience of working in a scientific institution before graduating from my degree, keen to develop skills that I had learned during the first two years of studying Ecology at Brighton and put them to good use! In addition, I relished the prospect of learning new skills and techniques which would ultimately help me during my final year.

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On the brink of living beyond 120

Science could be on the brink of fulfilling humans’ dream of longer healthier lives, according to a University of Brighton expert on ageing.

Professor Richard Faragher, the university’s Professor of Biogerontology, will discuss the latest research findings from diet and exercise to the medicines of tomorrow at a New Scientist Live event on 20 September.

Professor Faragher, from the university’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, holds the Chair of Biogerontology and is president-elect of the American Aging Association. He was the first British citizen to be elected to the Board of Directors of the American Federation for Aging Research, the leading US non-profit organisation supporting and advancing healthy aging through biomedical research, and he has been Chair of the British Society for Research on Ageing and the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology.

Professor Faragher will also explore the ethical aspects of ageing research: “Views on living forever are as interesting and varied as the science itself.”

New Scientist Live is an award-winning festival of ideas and discoveries. The four-day event at London ExCeL will feature more than 110 speakers giving thought-provoking talks on everything from overcoming chronic pain to boosting your brain with magnetism.

Paper towels win hands down over blow dryers

Paper towels are more efficient at drying and cleaning hands, according to research at the University of Brighton.

Despite the rising popularity of hand dryers in public restrooms the research shows traditional paper towels do the job better – and leave behind less bacteria.

The scientists are now calling on hospitals and other health care facilities to consider withdrawing air dryers altogether.

The research was conducted by Biomedical Science BSc(Hons) graduate Samantha Crockett, now  Senior Quality Assurance Microbiologist with GlaxoSmithKline, and Biological Sciences BSc(Hons) graduate Gregory Andreou, a microbiologist at Industrial Microbiological Services Limited. They were led by Dr Sarah Pitt, Principal Lecturer in the university’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences in Moulsecoomb, Brighton.

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Simple test could save cancer patients from unnecessary treatment

Some bladder cancer patients could be saved from months of unnecessary and ineffective treatment by a simple blood test, according to researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), run by Brighton and Sussex universities.

The test would benefit those patients who are unlikely to benefit from a commonly used immunotherapy.
Currently, 30-40 per cent of individuals have no benefit from the standard immunotherapy treatment, and they are only identified once therapy has failed, often six months or longer later. Read More

New link between ‘harmless’ virus and heart damage

Researchers from Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), run jointly by the universities of Brighton and Sussex, have discovered a link between a virus and damage to cardiovascular tissue.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a very common virus similar to the herpes virus that causes cold sores and is generally considered harmless. The immune system usually controls the virus and most people don’t even realise they have it. Read More

New way to tackle diabetes and obesity 

A pioneering scheme to reverse diabetes by allowing people to monitor their own metabolism rates was among the healthcare initiatives discussed at the University of Brighton’s Healthy Futures event.

Dr Wendy MacFarlane, Head of the Diabetes Research Group at the University, presented a talk about how Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems (CGMS) – worn on a patient’s abdomen – can be used to build personal profiles based on an individual’s blood glucose levels and their metabolism. 

The scheme, entitled GlycoTrain, will be of particular relevance to people at risk of Type 2 diabetes or those who want to lose weight. GlycoTrain can help reverse the effects of diabetes and allow users to build a personalised diet and fitness plan. 

Dr MacFarlane and her team at the University will ask patients to document their eating and exercise patterns, moods and sleep habits in a diary. Staff can then use these details to create a specific programme for each person and advise them on what areas to prioritise in the effort towards improved health and better management of their condition.

The initiative is currently being trialled by Dr MacFarlane and volunteers can sign up to participate by emailing w.m.macfarlane@brighton.ac.uk. 

Dr MacFarlane said: “It’s about giving people control over their metabolism. We’re working with people at a very high risk of Type 2 diabetes or who are trying to get their weight under control.

“With kids who drink a lot of fizzy pop, for example, their blood glucose levels soar – and once they can see that, they understand. The Continuous Glucose Monitoring System helps people understand their own metabolism.” Read More

Professor Matteo Santin

A look at Brighton’s healthy research

Microscopy lab

More than 200 experts from all over the UK and Europe are coming to see what research and enterprise in the field of health is taking place at the University of Brighton – on the day the NHS celebrates its 70thbirthday.

The Healthy Futures Showcase will be at the University of Brighton’s Huxley Building in Moulsecoomb on July 5.

Professor Matteo Santin, the University’s Professor of Tissue Regeneration and Academic Lead for the Healthy Futures, said: “There will representatives from local and European companies Brighton and Hove City Council and the NHS attending, and what better day to hold the event – the day the NHS celebrates 70 years.”

Professor Santin said the University’s research and enterprise activities in the field of health “reflect the vibrant and multi-faceted character of the city that provides a unique environment to study and project issues of global relevance.”

For more information go to: https://bit.ly/2Mj7pai

Biological Sciences alumnus publishes in Journal of Applied Microbiology

Univeristy of Brighton alumnus Mr Oliver Kitt, along with members of staff from the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, have recently published a study into the microbial activity of a modified calixerene polymer bound to a silicone substrate in the presence of pathogens associated with catheter infections. The study showed that the calixerene polymer is the active part of the coating and that biofilm formation was dramatically reduced.

Oliver, who graduated with Biological Sciences BSc(Hons) in 2011, returned to the university as a research assistant working alongside Dr Anna Guildford, Mr Chris Morris and Dr Ian Cooper.

Oliver says “Working on this project after my degree was a great learning experience, both about laboratory work and some of the business aspects surrounding it. Working in the lab was a fun and fulfilling time and I enjoyed every moment.”

The paper, titled “The effect of urinary Foley catheter substrate material on the antimicrobial potential of calixerene-based molecules” and published in Journal of Applied Microbiology, can be read here