Medicine & Health

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 6 of 6
  • (2023) Afzal, Hafiz
    Thesis
    Sensory signals informing about frictional properties of a surface are used both for perception to experience material properties and for motor control to be able to handle objects using adequate manipulative forces. There are fundamental differences between these two purposes and scenarios, how sensory information typically is obtained. This thesis aims to explore the mechanisms involved in the perception of frictional properties of the touched surfaces under conditions relevant for object manipulation. Firstly, I show that in the passive touch condition, when the surface is brought in contact with immobilised finger, humans are unable to use existing friction-related mechanical cues and perceptually associate them with frictional properties. However, a submillimeter range lateral movement significantly improved the subject's ability to evaluate the frictional properties of two otherwise identical surfaces. It is demonstrated that partial slips within the contact area and fingertip tissue deformation create very potent sensory stimuli, enabling tactile afferents to signal friction-dependent mechanical effects translating into slipperiness (friction) perception. Further, I demonstrate that natural movement kinematics facilitate the development of such small skin displacements within the contact area and may play a central role in enabling the perception of surface slipperiness and adjusting grip force to friction when manipulating objects. This demonstrates intimate interdependence between the motor and sensory systems. This work significantly extends our understanding of fundamental tactile sensory processes involved in friction signaling in the context of motor control and dexterous object manipulation tasks. This knowledge and discovered friction sensing principles may assist in designing haptic rendering devices and artificial tactile sensors as well as associated control algorithms to be used in robotic grippers and hand prostheses.

  • (2022) Kokkinos, John
    Thesis
    Less than 10% of patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) survive more than 5 years. One of the characteristic features that drive the aggressive nature of PDAC is its multicellular, heterogeneous, and fibrotic microenvironment. We previously identified a cytoskeletal protein, βIII-tubulin, as a novel therapeutic target in PDAC. However, the PDAC cell survival mechanisms controlled by βIII-tubulin were previously unknown. We also identified a major gap in the ability of human PDAC preclinical models to accurately mimic the 3D multicellular architecture and stroma of the disease. Thus, the aims of this work were (1) to evaluate the pro-survival role of βIII-tubulin in PDAC; (2) to establish a new patient derived tumour explant model that maintains all features of the PDAC microenvironment; and (3) to use the tumour explant model to test the clinical potential of silencing βIII-tubulin expression as well as two stromal targets that had been previously explored by our lab: solute carrier 7A11 (SLC7A11) and heat shock protein 47 (HSP47) Here, we identified that silencing βIII-tubulin in pancreatic cancer cells activated extrinsic apoptosis and increased their sensitivity to extrinsic apoptosis inducers including tumour necrosis factor-α (TNFα), Fas-ligand (FasL), and TNF-related apoptosis inducing factor (TRAIL). We next established the patient derived PDAC tumour explant model. We cultured whole-tissue tumour explants from PDAC patients for 12 days and demonstrated that explants maintained their 3D multicellular architecture, proliferative state, and collagen fibrosis. We also demonstrated the ability to deliver chemotherapeutics and siRNA-nanoparticles to the tumour explants. Finally, we tested the utility of this model to investigate the clinical potential of silencing three different therapeutic targets. We showed that therapeutic silencing of βIII-tubulin combined with TRAIL increased extrinsic apoptosis, decreased cell proliferation, and decreased tumour cell number. Inhibition of the stromal target SLC7A11 reduced tumour cell number and inhibited activity of stromal cancer-associated fibroblasts. Silencing of another target, HSP47, also led to a reduction in tumour cells and decreased cell proliferation. Overall, this work has discovered a previously unexplored role of βIII-tubulin as a brake on extrinsic cell death and has developed a new human PDAC preclinical model with utility in the drug development and precision medicine pipeline.

  • (2022) Indraratna, Praveen
    Thesis
    Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of global mortality. Two forms of CVD are acute coronary syndromes (ACS) and heart failure (HF). Patients with either are prone to repeat hospitalisations, which are detrimental to both patients and the healthcare system. Traditional care models are suboptimal in preventing readmissions. Mobile health interventions (MHIs) are attractive due to the computing power and convenience of the smartphone. Firstly, the literature regarding MHIs in CVD is systematically reviewed and meta-analysed. MHIs improved medication adherence in ACS patients and hospitalisation rates in HF patients. The review noted limitations of published trials and identified features of successful MHIs, which were incorporated into the design of a novel smartphone app-based model of care (TeleClinical Care, TCC). TCC allows home measurement of blood pressure, heart rate and weight by patients. The readings are automatically transmitted to a central server, where clinicians can identify abnormalities and intervene accordingly. A pilot RCT comparing TCC and usual care (UC) to UC alone was performed (n=164). Patients using TCC had fewer readmissions at 6 months (41 vs. 21, hazard ratio 0.51, P= 0.015), and were more likely to be adherent with medications (75% vs. 50%, P= 0.001) and complete cardiac rehabilitation (39% vs. 18%, odds ratio 2.9, P= 0.02) compared to patients in the control arm. A process evaluation of the RCT was subsequently undertaken, which identified several contributory factors to TCC’s success, such as a helpful orientation protocol for team members, and high background rates of HF outreach service and cardiologist follow-up in both trial arms. Via a series of interviews, methods to improve the future delivery of TCC were identified, particularly relating to its integration into mainstream healthcare. Patterns of smartphone ownership among cardiac inpatients were also examined. Age, sex, diagnosis, and private health insurance subscription influenced smartphone ownership. These data will help identify patients who may be excluded from MHIs. The thesis contains a cost-effectiveness model of TCC if applied widely. When enrolment exceeds 237 patients, TCC will reduce healthcare costs relative to UC, resultant to readmission prevention. Enrolment of 500 patients is projected to save $100,000 annually. In conclusion, TCC is demonstrated as a feasible, beneficial, safe, and cost-effective intervention for patients with CVD.

  • (2022) Shao, Ethan
    Thesis
    The emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria due to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in the medical and agricultural sectors has now become a critical global healthcare issue. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and synthetic mimics thereof have shown promise in combating MDR bacteria effectively, mainly because of their mechanism of action that disrupts bacteria cell membrane, consequently hindering resistance development in bacteria. However, these antimicrobials also exhibit toxicity to healthy mammalian cells at high dosage. To overcome this toxicity issue, the application of combination therapy alongside traditional antibiotics could enable the administration of these membrane-disrupting antimicrobials at lower dosage. Herein, this thesis investigates the synergetic effects of new tri-systems for combination therapy against Gram-negative bacteria which contain: i) an AMP (colistin methanesulfonate); ii) an antimicrobial polymer as AMP mimic and; iii) commercial antibiotics. It was found that colistin and the antimicrobial polymer could combine synergistically with any of the three antibiotics, doxycycline, rifampicin, and azithromycin, against wild type and MDR strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Crucially, given the lower dosage of antimicrobial polymer used in these combination systems, the therapeutic index (also known as selectivity index), which is an indicator of an antimicrobial system to preferentially target bacteria over mammalian cells, is higher than the standalone agents. Furthermore, in this thesis, other selected antimicrobial polymers that are active toward mycobacteria instead of Gram-negative were also investigated as potential adjuvants or synergists to potentiate the antimicrobial activity of antibiotics against Mycobacterium smegmatis via a two-component system. Among the different families of antibiotics screened, it was found that these polymers only act as adjuvants of aminoglycosides. Overall, this thesis yields valuable new insights on combination therapy that will be useful toward combating MDR bacteria in clinical settings.

  • (2023) Chow, Brian
    Thesis
    Little is known about human muscle growth in children with and without cerebral palsy (CP). The MUGgLE study aims to investigate growth-related changes in the three-dimensional (3D) architecture of lower leg muscles (muscle volume, physiological cross-sectional area (PCSA), fascicle length, and pennation angle) in 320 infants and children with and without CP aged < 3 months and 5 to 15 years. Infants have one leg scan (anatomical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) images), while children have three scans over three years. The MUGgLE study is ongoing. This thesis presents data derived from the first scan conducted on each of 208 typically developing (TD) infants and children. Chapter 2 provides muscle volumes of ten muscle groups in infants, and the architecture and moment arms of the medial (MG) and lateral gastrocnemius (LG) muscles. By comparing these data to data obtained from adults, it was shown that MG muscle fascicles grow primarily in cross-section rather than in length from birth to adulthood. Chapter 3 determines if lower leg muscles grow synchronously from birth to 15 years. The data show that muscle volumes, normalised to total lower leg volume, vary with age, indicating asynchronous growth. The soleus and MG muscles grow disproportionately faster. Chapter 4 determines muscle-, age-, and sex-conditional distributions of MG and tibialis anterior (TA) muscle architecture from birth to 15 years. Up to age 15 years, both muscles grow nonlinearly in volume, PCSA, and fascicle length, while the pennation angles remain nearly constant. The MG and TA muscle fascicles grow primarily transversely rather than longitudinally over this period. Chapter 5 explores the development and evaluation of a portable dynamometer used to estimate the passive length-tension curves of the gastrocnemius muscles in children. The evaluation shows that the dynamometer requires further methodological refinements to be reliable enough for clinical and research use. This thesis contributes to the fields of biomechanics, muscle physiology, and human anatomy, providing the largest high-resolution 3D dataset of muscle architecture in children to date. Biomechanists can use the data to build more effective structure-function models of children’s muscles, clinicians can use the data to investigate disordered muscle growth in children and inform early interventions and treatments, and academics can use the data to teach muscle and bone anatomy.

  • (2024) Wade, Stuart
    Thesis
    Background: Radiology education in undergraduate medicine varies greatly in terms of teaching time, topics, methods of delivery and teaching staff. Medical curricula are crowded, and there are contrasting opinions regarding the most appropriate radiology topics, delivery methods and degree of integration to maximise effectiveness. Hypothesis: Radiology is suited to eLearning, especially as digitisation of diagnostic imaging is widespread. eLearning designed utilising principles of evidence-based instructional design might be effective and efficient for learning radiology, compared with traditional teaching methods. Methods: Interactive eLearning modules in radiology were developed and their effectiveness for learning was compared with widely used peer-reviewed non-interactive web-based resources in volunteer senior medical students and junior doctors. Effectiveness was evaluated quantitatively by knowledge assessments and qualitatively by surveys of participants’ perceptions of the resources. A systematic review was performed comparing elements of radiology education programs, in particular the role of eLearning. Results: Interactive eLearning in radiology was at least as effective as non-interactive web based peer reviewed resources in knowledge assessments for senior medical students and junior doctors. High heterogeneity between studies mitigated against firm conclusions in a systematic review and meta-analysis of radiology education. However, thematic analysis suggests that eLearning is equivalent to traditional pedagogies for learning radiology. Educational interventions are highly contextual and tailored for specific cohorts, accounting for high heterogeneity. Strategies to better standardise radiology curricula, assessment and the quality of educational research are required to reduce heterogeneity in radiology education research. Conclusion: Mixed data exists on the effectiveness of radiology teaching. Nevertheless, radiology eLearning resources utilising evidence-based instructional design principles are at least equivalent to traditional pedagogies and might be synergistic with in-person learning activities. Factors likely contributing to successful radiology education interventions include clear learning outcomes, active participation by students in learning and provision of immediate feedback. Strategies to reduce heterogeneity in radiology education research could enable educators to assess and utilise best evidence in their practice.