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.

Soapbox Science’s first visit to Brighton

Head down to the seafront between 1-4pm on Saturday 29 July and celebrate women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) with Soapbox Science.

Soapbox Science hosts events across the UK and the world raising the profile of women in science – breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes about who a researcher is. And they are coming to Brighton for the first time this summer.
Chantal Nobs, a PhD student at the University of Brighton, was one of 12 women selected to participate in the Soapbox Science London event on London’s Southbank in 2016.

Find out more about the Brighton event here.

Clinical trial of infection-detecting bandages begins

A clinical trial of a smart bandage which changes colour when it detects infections is beginning using samples from burns patients from four UK hospitals.

The samples will undergo tests by scientists in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences who will look at the activation of key genes in infection-causing bacteria to evaluate the bandages’ performance

The technology, developed at the University of Bath, has potential to detect infection earlier, allowing improved treatment for burns patients as well as reducing the use of antibiotics, helping combat the threat of drug-resistant bacteria.

The trial, at Southmead Hospital Bristol, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and Queen Victoria Hospital East Grinstead, will use swabs and dressings taken from hundreds of patients to conduct tests to understand wound infection and dressing activation in laboratories in University of Brighton and Bath.

Dr Brian Jones, who is based in our school, and colleagues are leading on work to understand how well the dressing will respond to the bacteria causing these infections, and optimise this.

Dr Jones, Reader in Molecular and Medical Microbiology, said: “The dressing technology we are helping to develop here could be of real benefit to many patients. This could not only help clinicians provide the best possible treatment for patients with burns, but could also help us understand how wound infections begin and how they affect the normal healing process.” Continue reading

Crohn’s Awareness Week

Hello, my name Is Adam Waugh. I suffer from a condition that many people don’t necessarily. I’m writing this piece to shed a little light on the world of Crohn’s and Colitis , not just what it is but also what it is like for the thousands of people that suffer with a condition that even they know very little about.

Crohn’s disease is defined as “a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestine, especially the colon, ileum and is associated with ulcers”. To those who suffer from it, it is much more than that. Crohn’s disease is an unfortunate lifestyle forced upon someone that affects everything from their diet to their social life. Crohn’s disease and its many forms are what is known as an “autoimmune disorder”. This is where the body’s own immune system attacks the natural bacteria in the gut trying to fight off an infection that doesn’t exist. In doing so it creates ulcers and tears in the intestinal wall which affect the ways in which food passes through the intestines. This can lead to some pretty un-fun side effects such as, constipation, diarrhoea, malnutrition and in worst cases anaemia from loss of blood. The most common symptom of the illness is an urgent and sudden need to go to the toilet. This causes a lot of distress and panic for sufferers as well as for many can be very embarrassing to have to constantly excuse yourself to use the toilet.

The biggest problem many sufferers face from Crohn’s disease is misdiagnosis, with over 115,000 people in the UK suffering from this condition the vast majority of which will have been misdiagnosed at some point along the line. I personally was misdiagnosed for 2 years with irritable bowel syndrome due to lack of knowledge on the subject and lack of testing done. Another big issue is the way Crohn’s can affect each individual sufferer. As it is different from person to person, what they can and can’t eat, what does and doesn’t trigger symptoms, it becomes very hard to treat. There isn’t one single way to treat the illness often requiring years of trial and error with medication and other therapies in order to achieve a decent lifestyle. For those who aren’t as lucky and don’t respond to medication the only other alternative is often surgery, this involves removing a large portion of the affected intestine and the use of a stoma bag which for some is the most embarrassing thing possible.

There is ongoing research to find a cure for this condition with help from societies such as Crohn’s and Colitis which provides help to those in need, organising events and funding research into a cure. Their website can be found at https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/. As of yet there is no cure only ways to manage the symptoms, there is hope however that there will be a cure someday in the future.

Lunchtime learning

Our school are hosting a series of seminars on Fridays from 1-2on in H400. Everyone is invited so put the dates in your diaries.

Here’s what is coming up over in the next few weeks.

Friday 18 November
e-learning apps: could they have an impact on student engagement and retention?
presented by Dr George Olivier

Friday 25 November
What we do not know about our hearing
presented by Andrei Lukashkin

Friday 9 December
Yeast: a versatile living test tube to screen drug targets and inhibitors
presented by Dr Cathy Moore, Institute for Infection and Immunity