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

 

Scoop Business: RBNZ Keeps OCR At 3.5%, Signals Slower Pace Of Future Hikes

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 3.5 percent and signalled he won’t be as aggressive with future rate hikes as previously thought as inflation remains tamer than expected. The kiwi dollar fell to a seven-month low. More>>

ALSO:

Weather: Dry Spells Take Hold In South Island

Many areas in the South Island are tracking towards record dry spells as relatively warm, dry weather that began in mid-August continues... for some South Island places, the current period of fine weather is quite rare. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Productivity Commission To Look At Housing Land Supply

The Productivity Commission is to expand on its housing affordability report with an investigation into improving land supply and development capacity, particularly in areas with strong population growth. More>>

ALSO:

Forestry: Man Charged After 2013 Death

Levin Police have arrested and charged a man with manslaughter in relation to the death of Lincoln Kidd who was killed during a tree felling operation on 19 December 2013. More>>

ALSO:

Smells Like Justice: Dairy Company Fined Over Odour

Dairy company fined over odour Dairy supply company Open Country Dairy Limited has been convicted and fined more than $35,000 for discharging objectionable odour from its Waharoa factory at the time of last year’s ”spring flush” when milk supply was high. More>>

Scoop Business: Dairy Product Prices Decline To Lowest Since July 2012

Dairy product prices dropped to the lowest level since July 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, led by a slump in rennet casein and butter milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

SOE Results: TVNZ Lifts Annual Profit 25% On Flat Ad Revenue, Quits Igloo

Television New Zealand, the state-owned broadcaster, lifted annual profit 25 percent, ahead of forecast and despite a dip in advertising revenue, while quitting its stake in the pay-TV Igloo joint venture with Sky Network Television. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand

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