Medicine & Health

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Now showing 1 - 6 of 6
  • (2022) Cao, Jun
    This thesis focuses on the development and applications of magnetic resonance electrical properties tomography (MREPT), which is an emerging imaging modality to noninvasively obtain the electrical properties of tissues, such as conductivity and permittivity. Chapter 2 describes the general information about human research ethics, MRI scanner, MR sequence and the method of phase-based MREPT implemented in this thesis. Chapter 3 examines the repeatability of phase-based MREPT in the brain conductivity measurement using balanced fast field echo (bFFE) and turbo spin echo (TSE) sequences, and investigate the effects of compressed SENSE, whole-head B_1 shimming and video watching during scan on the measurement precision. Chapter 4 investigates the conductivity signal in response to short-duration visual stimulus, compares the signal and functional activation pathway with that of BOLD, and tests the consistency of functional conductivity imaging (funCI) with visual stimulation across participants. Chapter 5 extends the use of functional conductivity imaging to somatosensory stimulation and trigeminal nerve stimulation to evaluate the consistency of functional conductivity activation across different types of stimuli. In addition, visual adaptation experiment is performed to test if the repetition suppression effect can be observed using funCI. Chapter 6 explores if resting state conductivity networks can be reliably constructed using resting state funCI, evaluates the consistency of persistent homology architectures, and compares the links between nodes in the whole brain. Chapter 7 investigates the feasibility of prostate conductivity imaging using MREPT, and distinctive features in the conductivity distribution between healthy participants and participants with suspected abnormalities.

  • (2022) Kaur, Jagjit
    Secreted by pancreatic β-cells, insulin is the major anabolic hormone, regulating the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Defects in insulin production or action can lead to diabetes characterized by derangements in glucose handling and metabolic disease. Diabetes affects 420 million people worldwide, increasing morbidity, mortality and placing a burden on healthcare of nations. There is a need for rapid and accurate monitoring of insulin levels to optimize diabetes management and facilitate early diagnosis of insulin related chronic diseases. Conventional strategies such as HPLC, MALDI-TOF, ELISA, etc. used for insulin detection are not suitable for point-of-care testing (POCT) as they are expensive, and require sample preparation, sophisticated instruments, and skilled personnel. Our goal was to develop techniques to allow POCT for insulin in real time. In this study we developed two lateral flow assays (LFAs) based POCT platforms using aptamers as the biorecognition molecules for colorimetric and fluorescent detection of insulin. A range of conditions were tested such as concentrations of aptamers, reporter molecules used, volume of sample required, and assay time to obtain quantify insulin levels using a standard LFA reader. The colorimetric LFAs had linear detection range of 0.01-1 ng.mL-1 and LOD of 0.01 ng.mL-1. The fluorescent LFAs exhibited a linear detection range of 0-4 ng.mL-1 and 0.1 ng.mL-1 LOD. Various signal amplification strategies were incorporated, ie., gold-silver amplification technique and rolling circular amplification (RCA) to further enhance the signal. The developed colorimetric LFAs were successfully used for insulin quantification in rat blood, human blood, and human saliva samples. Although insulin levels were quantified within 12 min, some issues arose such as coagulation, need for dilution, and non-uniform flow through the test strips. Further work is required to optimize blood handling to progress an insulin POCT in real time. Future work could develop a multiplexed strip for detection of different analytes such as HbA1c, glucose, and C-peptide for better management of diabetes, along with a smartphone reader App. This research goes some way to addressing the challenge of providing a reliable and rapid approach for highly sensitive and specific detection of insulin for POCT applications.

  • (2023) Vangelov, Belinda
    Background: Assessment of body composition, specifically evaluation of skeletal muscle (SM), has gained momentum in studies of patients with head and neck cancer (HNC). Depletion of SM measured via computed tomography (CT), known as CT-defined sarcopenia, has emerged as an independent prognostic indicator in HNC. International standard SM measures use the cross-sectional area (CSA) of a single axial slice at the third lumbar vertebra (L3). However, diagnostic CT scans for HNC do not always extend to this level, limiting assessment opportunities. This thesis investigates the feasibility of alternate vertebral levels for SM evaluation in HNC. Methods: A systematic review was undertaken to determine current evidence for SM evaluation at alternate vertebral levels in patients with cancer. Gaps in the literature led to a five phase plan to investigate the use of a cervical (C3) and thoracic (T2) level for SM assessment in patients with HNC who received a diagnostic or radiotherapy planning CT scan. This included evaluation of an existing prediction model (used to estimate L3-CSA with SM at C3), and formulation of population-specific models for use when L3 is not available. Novel methodology for SM evaluation at T2, and thresholds for low skeletal muscle index (SMI) values were also introduced. Results: The progressive findings of the five studies have indicated that; SM assessment at C3 should be applied with caution; prediction modelling should be population and sex-specific; thoracic SM measures at T2 deplete in similar proportions to L3 over time, cervical SM does not; SM at T2 is predictive of sarcopenia risk (HR=62.78, CI 27.59-164.08, p<0.001); and T2-SMI thresholds for sarcopenia stratified for sex and body mass index were effective in determining patients at risk of critical weight loss during treatments, and overall survival outcomes. Conclusion: This body of work has identified key concerns with the use of SM at C3 for muscle evaluation in patients with HNC, and has provided evidence for the use of SM at T2 as an alternative to L3. The anatomical position of T2 is not likely to include tumour infiltration, contains musculature that is sensitive to depletion, and is visible in CT scans taken in routine practice for HNC. Population and tumour-specific SMI thresholds for sarcopenia are required in this population for effective diagnosis and appropriate service delivery to ensure optimal nutritional and survival outcomes in this patient population.

  • (2023) Bradbury, Tom
    Background: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a minimally reversible, inflammatory condition of the lower airways. Addressing exacerbations – acute episodes of symptom worsening - has emerged as a priority in the development of COPD management strategies and shapes the ethos behind trial design and concepts of efficacy in this field. Currently, there is poor consensus as to how the different aspects of exacerbations should be integrated into clinical trial outcomes. Furthermore, as COPD exacerbations are a relatively newly defined clinical entity there is a need to re-examine previous assumptions regarding the clinical efficacy of established interventions, incorporating updated knowledge and research methods. Aims: The aim of this thesis was to investigate how COPD exacerbations are represented and used as a measured outcome of efficacy and safety in past and current clinical trials of exacerbation prevention and management. The secondary aim was to develop a range of skills needed to conduct original research in this area. Methods: Five studies were conducted. These were a systematic literature review of exacerbation-based outcomes in published clinical trials, qualitative analysis of original interview data to assess COPD patient priorities in exacerbation treatment and future research, and a case series of an app-based exacerbation identification system. Quantitative analyses of the TASCS (Theophylline and Steroids in COPD Study) and PACE (Preventing Adverse Cardiac Events in COPD) trial datasets were performed to advance our understanding of how pharmacological agents modulate exacerbation properties in different COPD patient phenotypes. Results & Conclusions: The heterogeneity and evolving understanding of the pathophysiology of COPD is new knowledge which should be incorporated into clinical trial design and conduct. This was shown in the analyses of the TASCS and PACE trial data, where established understandings of exacerbations and different patient phenotypes were challenged by the findings. The results of the remaining three studies suggest that: (i) trial outcomes pertaining to exacerbations should be standardised and validated, and (ii) how these outcomes are defined, valued by patients, and measured should be clearly communicated and accurately cited. This will improve data quality, enhance representation of patient values in future research and minimise ambiguity in communicating research results.

  • (2023) Kalu, Arua
    There is overwhelming evidence supporting lutein and zeaxanthin as beneficial to eye health. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of blindness in Australia and globally, has been associated with inadequate dietary lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z) intakes. This study aimed to assess dietary L+Z intakes and sources, the cooking effect on carotenoids L, including the relative bioavailability of these carotenoids when consumed with omega-3 supplements. Consequently, the potential health benefit associated with increased carotenoids L+Z intakes and lower AMD risk. This study had 3 phases; Phase 1 assessed dietary L+Z intakes using dietary questionnaires (24-h recall and DQES), and background characteristics, while serum L+Z and omega-3 status were determined using HPLC and GC-MS. Carotenoid L+Z sources (raw vs. cooked) in subjects’ dietary reports were analyzed, including other food sources from major supermarket outlets, and levels were quantified using HPLC (Phase 2). The relative bioavailability of L+Z were examined when consumed with omega-3 supplements over a 19-d period (Phase 3). This study revealed evidence supporting the achievable mean levels of serum L and estimated dietary L +Z levels among 19 – 52 yr Australian adults with and without a family history of AMD. The preliminary data linked ethnic origin and residency status duration (>10 yr) with dietary intakes of L+Z and omega-3-FA. Overall, dietary L+Z intakes were below the reported range (≈3 – 5 mg/day) considered for recommended intakes. Also, participants achieved serum L and Z levels that were consistent (34-60 µg/dL) and inconsistent (<34 µg/dL) with reported literature evidence. Further, data analysis revealed that RBC EPA/AA ratio, seafood, supplement use (non-AMD related), and residency status influenced serum L and omega-3-FA status. Dietary L+Z intakes reported by subjects were quantified, and sweet corn, asparagus, chili habanero, and plum were determined (raw form) to be good L contributors. This study estimated L levels before and after cooking. The effect of cooking across foods was variable in terms of observed changes and will require further investigation using different heating methods. After cooking, carotenoid L increased (+19.74 % to +68.43 %) in brussel sprout, coriander, and spring onion. Further, the 19-d bioavailability trial revealed the additional benefit of omega-3-FA inclusion in L+Z supplement intakes among human subjects. Omega-3-addition significantly increased serum L+Z levels without significantly affecting oxidative stress levels. L+Z concentrations were 68% more relatively bioavailable when consumed with omega-3 supplements. Observed changes were achieved after supplementation with 540 mg/d EPA+ 360 mg/d DHA and/ or 12 mg/d (10 mg L+ 2 mg Z) over the 19-d period. Overall, this research demonstrates the additional benefit of omega-3-dietary or supplement intakes with L+Z, good food sources of L+Z, and the effect of cooking on these carotenoids.

  • (2023) Sehnert, Rebecca
    Cellular deficiencies in nicotinamide dinucleotide (NAD+) have been linked to a wide range of pathophysiologies. Boosting NAD+ levels via supplementation with its metabolic intermediates, such as nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), has been shown to be a potential treatment for many diseases. Notably, NMN administration is a promising solution to prevent female fertility damage due to chemotherapeutic insult. However, this strategy is severely limited due to a lack of drug delivery application methods. To address this need, we propose a drug-loaded hydrogel system that can be implanted at the location of interest. By chemically conjugating the NMN drug molecule to a poly (vinyl alcohol) (PVA) polymer via a linker of biodegradable ester bonds, it is hypothesised that we can prevent burst release while providing targeted, prolonged release duration through hydrolytic cleavage. PVA previously conjugated with photo-crosslinkable methacrylate pendants was chosen as the base system, as this allows for easy hydrogel formation. This work’s aim was to achieve conjugation of NMN into this PVA system, characterisation of the synthesis pathways utilised, as well as evaluation of the resultant hydrogel systems. It is proposed that a linear pendant containing multiple ester groups could be grown from the hydroxyl moieties on the PVA backbone via a series of carbodiimide reactions. Conjugation of the NMN to this pendant was investigated via three different synthesis pathways: 1) “Linear” amine building block, 2) “Reverse” amine building blocks and 3) “Fmoc” protecting group method. Each strategy has individual benefits and drawbacks, and each was evaluated for key parameters such as efficiency of reaction, maximum NMN loading achieved, and cytocompatibility. This work demonstrates the first known incorporation of NMN into a hydrogel system for the purpose of sustained drug release. These results demonstrate that NMN has been chemically conjugated into a PVA hydrogel system in a controlled, non-toxic and reproducible manner, allowing for eventual use in drug delivery applications.