Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Waikato science students tackle cancer and memory research

25 February, 2014

Waikato science students tackle cancer and memory research


Click for big version.

Biomedical research at Waikato University: From back left, Dr Michael Jameson, Dr Steven Bird, Greg Jacobson and Dr Logan Voss. From front left, Laura Bell, Dr Linda Peters, Kirsty Mayall and Stephen Evans.

Preventing breast cancer, reducing the toxicity of radiotherapy and chemotherapy side effects, and analysing memory function during anaesthesia, were the topics for three students from the University of Waikato, who have just completed summer studentships.

Laura Bell, Kirsty Mayall and Stephen Evans were each awarded a Waikato Clinical School Summer Studentship worth $5000. Laura and Kirsty are about to embark on their second year of a Master of Science (MSc), while Stephen is in his first year of a PhD. All three students are focusing on biomedical science and will each take their studentship research topic to the next level throughout 2014, as part of their degree.

Breast cancer prevention

Former Hamilton Girls’ High student Kirsty Mayall’s studentship research focuses on breast cancer prevention, and is co-supervised by University of Waikato lecturer and molecular geneticist Dr Linda Peters, and medical research scientist and consultant oncologist Dr Michael Jameson from the Waikato Hospital’s Oncology department.

“Selenium (Se) is an essential trace mineral that has critical roles in maintaining health in humans. Depending on the concentration and type of selenium, it can cause or prevent breast cancer,” says Kirsty.

The aim of this study is to test two different types of selenium at three concentrations each in human breast cancer cells that carry the BRCA1 mutation (an inherited breast and ovarian cancer gene).

“During my MSc I’ll be looking at the different concentrations of selenium on the breast cancer cell lines and what dose is lethal for the cells. From there we’ll investigate what dose is most effective at reducing the levels of DNA damage present in the cells.”

Reducing toxicity of radiotherapy and chemotherapy

Stephen Evans is supervised by Dr Jameson and Waikato University’s Dr Steve Bird, with additional support from Dr Peters and Dr Ray Cursons.

His study will also focus on selenium, but instead of cancer prevention, he will look at reducing the negative effects of cancer treatment.

“High doses of selenium have been shown to reduce chemotherapy and radiotherapy-induced toxicities towards blood forming stem cells in both animal and human studies. My project examines the effects of selenium on the growth of such cells when they are exposed to these toxic cancer treatments,” says Stephen.

Memory function during anaesthesia

Laura Bell was originally inspired to study biology by her Year 12 Hillcrest High School science teacher. Her research focuses on the effects of general anaesthetics on a patient’s memory and is supervised by Dr Peters alongside Dr Logan Voss from the Anaesthesia Department at Waikato Hospital.

“The mechanism by which anaesthetics disrupt memory is not well understood, but is likely to involve an interruption to gene expression and protein synthesis pathways,” says Laura.

Laura explains that previous studies have focused on the effect of anaesthetics in the hippocampal area of the brain. However, the cerebral cortex is also an important site for memory and this is the area that she will be investigating.

“In this study we will investigate anaesthetic effects on genes related to memory in the brain. In particular, we will determine whether general anaesthetics alter expression of genes related to signalling mechanisms.”

Collaboration
The projects provide further collaborative research links between staff from the University of Waikato and Waikato Hospital, which Dr Peters says is exciting for the development of biomedical science research at the University.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Media: Julian Wilcox Leaves Māori TV

Māori Television has confirmed the resignation of Head of News and Production Julian Wilcox. Mr Maxwell acknowledged Mr Wilcox’s significant contribution to Māori Television since joining the organisation in 2004. More>>

ALSO:

Genetics: New Heat Tolerant Cow Developed

Hamilton, New Zealand-based Dairy Solutionz Ltd has led an expert genetics team to develop a new dairy cow breed conditioned to thrive in lower elevation tropical climates and achieve high milk production under heat stress. More>>

Fractals: Thousands More Business Cards Needed To Build Giant Sponge

New Zealand is taking part in a global event this weekend to build a Menger Sponge using 15 million business cards but local organisers say they are thousands of business cards short. More>>

Scoop Business: NZ Net Migration Rises To Annual Record In September

New Zealand’s annual net migration rose to a record in September, beating government forecasts, as the inflow was spurred by student arrivals from India and Kiwis returning home from Australia. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Fletcher To Close Its Christchurch Insulation Plant, Cut 29 Jobs

Fletcher Building, New Zealand’s largest listed company, will close its Christchurch insulation factory, as it consolidates its Tasman Insulations operations in a “highly competitive market”. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Novartis Adds Nine New Treatments Under Pharmac Deal

Novartis New Zealand, the local unit of the global pharmaceuticals firm, has added nine new treatments in a far-ranging agreement with government drug buying agency, Pharmac. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: English Wary On Tax Take, Could Threaten Surplus

Finance Minister Bill English is warning the tax take may come in below forecast in the current financial year, as figures released today confirm it was short by nearly $1 billion in the year to June 30 and English warned of the potential impact of slumping receipts from agricultural exports. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand

Mosh Social Media
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news