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

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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

Studying and socialising in our nationally recognised building

estates_cockcroft_aw_048The recent, multi-million pound project transforming the Cockcroft building into a state-of-the-art research, teaching and information building has been recognised in the prestigious Green Gown Awards for 2016.

Our university and the architects we worked with Fraser Brown MacKenna were named Finalist in the Built Environment category for what was one of the largest retrofits of an occupied academic building in the UK.

The transformation was described by judges as “an innovative approach integrating architectural, building services and structure design” which unlocked the environmental potential of the 10,500m2 building using the latest technology.

Innovations include an aquifer thermal energy store, potentially reducing energy demand, CO2 emissions and fuel savings. The system stores and recovers thermal energy beneath the ground and provides heating and cooling.

A spokesperson for the awards told the university: “On behalf of the Green Gown Awards Team we wanted to congratulate you on your achievement. Being a Green Gown Awards Finalist is something to be extremely proud of.”

Earlier this year the Cockcroft project won in the Higher Education category of the Architects’ Journal Retrofit Awards 2016. Judges called it a bold project and a model for future similar projects. Continue reading

PABS joins in BAFTA success

hal-in-moscow-2A children’s medical programme, supported by the University of Brighton, has been nominated for a 2016 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award.

Professor Hal Sosabowski, Professor of Public Understanding who is based in our school, acts as science consultant for the CBBC children’s series Operation Ouch!, which aims to make medicine and science fun and accessible for children.

Professor Sosabowski, who advises on how to conduct safe experiments, said: “The programme has already won two BAFTAs and is now one of CBBC’s crown jewels. It focuses on the more macabre and disgusting but at the same time, strangely compulsive elements of the human body.”

Our school, the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, has been contributing to the programme since it was launched in 2012 and filming has been conducted at labs at the Huxley Building here in Moulsecoomb and at a lab at the Hastings campus. The programme is hosted by Christoffer and Alexander van Tulleken.

Professor Sosabowski said: “The programme is now syndicated worldwide and our involvement can only happen due to the goodwill of School colleagues to whom I extend my heartiest thanks. Season Six has been commissioned and the University and the School receive credits at the programme’s end which will reach literally millions of young scientists.”

The BAFTA awards ceremony is on 20 November. Watch this space!

Continue reading

WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY 2016

This is just a quick but very important post to remind everyone that today is mental health day. If we do not act now, depression will be the leading global illness by 2030. I know that it is easy to overlook mental illnesses as things that cause us to suffer physically are far more obvious. Nevertheless, mental illnesses are just as debilitating as a physical ailment. As a sufferer of anxiety and depression, the most common mental disorders in Britain, I am aware of just how immobilising these conditions can be. So if you know someone who suffers from a mental illness I urge you to sit down and talk with them as it is the little things that can make the biggest difference. Also, if you are a sufferer like me, I hope you can have the courage to open up and speak about your problems. OWN IT. Mental illness no longer has to be something we shy away from talking about. It is so important to educate people on the matter and save future generations from feeling alone and helpless in already very isolating illnesses.

For more information on mental illness visit The Mental Health Foundation, Time To Change, Mind and Rethink. 

To talk to The Samaritans call 116 123.

Lauren.

 

British Science Festival heads for Brighton

british-science-festival-logoOne of Europe’s leading and longest established science festivals is coming to Brighton next year. And we will be co-hosting it!

The University of Brighton will co-host the 2017 British Science Festival with the University of Sussex from 5-8 September.

The festival, organised by the British Science Association, will have a programme of over 100 events featuring cutting-edge science from world-leading academics covering everything from technology and engineering to social sciences.

Welcoming the announcement, Vice-Chancellor Professor Debra Humphris said: “I am delighted that the University of Brighton will be co-hosting the British Science Festival next year. We were keen to grasp this wonderful opportunity to showcase our world-leading research alongside cutting-edge science from around the globe in an accessible and engaging way.

“The city of Brighton & Hove is world-renowned for its Arts Festival. By hosting the British Science Festival, we can throw open the doors of our facilities to the wider community, including our new state-of-the-art Advanced Engineering Building that is currently under construction.”

We’ll keep you posted as more details are confirmed, and hope to see you all there!