We all remember being told to ‘eat our greens’ and understand that the iron in leafy vegetables is essential for our health and wellbeing. In fact healthy eating has been big news in recent months with Jamie Oliver’s plans to start a revolution in school dining halls up and down the country; and where would Popeye have been without his spinach?!
However, it may surprise you to know that we are not quite what we eat…what we eat does not provide the full picture about how healthy we are.
In severe cases, the baby may have to be delivered early and every year 500-600 infants die as a result of the condition.
Pre-eclampsia may be common, but it is not well understood, which is why a team of researchers at the University of Edinburgh is about to embark on a two-year study into its causes.
Professor Andrew Calder is leading a team awarded £120,869 by Action Medical Research. Their study will focus on the placenta and the blood vessels in the mother, which are thought to be key factors in pre-eclampsia.
“The cornea,” says Professor Andrew George, “is the window of the eye.” He points out that it is much thicker and tougher than ‘the transparent film’ that people imagine it to be, but whatever word you use, its transparency is critical to the ability to see.
A new hip can mean a new lease of life for someone suffering from degeneration of the hip joint. Most operations are carried out on people with osteoarthritis, a condition that affects the ‘shock absorbing’ qualities of the cartilage that lines the joint.
Thanks to a grant of more than £105,000 from Action Medical Research, Research Training Fellow Dr John Grainger has been investigating the treatment of Hurler syndrome in a transplant model. The project, based at Manchester Children’s Hospital, explored the use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) — rare cells that can be derived from the patient’s bone marrow and have the potential to develop into other tissues of the body. MSC can dampen down the immune reaction to transplanted bone marrow cells, reducing the possibility of rejection.
However, if a blockage occurs in the liver and the bile begins to build up, it is released into the bloodstream where it can be highly toxic and damaging — especially for a developing fetus.
Although introduction of folic acid supplements has been successful in reducing the incidence of spina bifida — thanks in part to earlier research funded by Action Medical Research — it still affects around 1 in 1,000 pregnancies.
All parents of small children have their good and bad days. One toddler can be a handful, so Mark and Andrea Guest have certainly got their work cut out with Ruby and Harvey — two lively, chatty two-and-a-half year olds. But Ruby and Harvey made an unconventional, and unexpected, entrance into the world.
Born 14 weeks early, and weighing only 1lb13oz and 1lb 14oz respectively, the fact that they are here to drive their parents to distraction at all puts things in perspective — even on a bad day.
Dysarthria is associated with poor control of the speech muscles and causes speech to be slurred, indistinct or unintelligible. Making improvements requires persistent and intensive practise which is currently done at home without any supervision or feedback on progress.
A team of scientists working in three different cities across the UK have been given an Action Medical Research grant for a study which aims to develop a better understanding of what causes premature labour.
Around 50,000 babies a year in the UK are born before 37 weeks, but the mechanism that causes contractions to start is not properly understood.
A grant of £142,083 from Action Medical Research is funding a study to define how a protein which causes the muscle cells of the womb to relax during pregnancy is regulated.
Ten thousand children a year are born this early, and of those ten to 15 percent develop major neurological impairments. A further 20 to 30 percent will have difficulties with behaviour or learning, including reading or understanding speech or grammar. Dr Torsten Baldeweg believes this is the result of injury to the immature brain. “They may have suffered lesions which are the result of bleeding into the brain, or loss of oxygen,” explains Dr Baldeweg.
Poor, uncoordinated contractions can mean a lack of progress during labour, often resulting in the need for Caesarean section. This carries with it increased risk of complications for both mother and baby.
The mechanisms of labour are to a large extent unknown. Thanks to funding of more than £83,000, Research Training Fellow Dr Joanne Pierce has been investigating the labour proces and in particular, the causes of dysfunctional labours, where contractions are weak or inefficient.
With Action Medical Research funding it was later adapted to measure oxygen in babies’ brains during labour. This provided doctors with vital information about babies who suffered oxygen shortage during delivery and about what damage, if any, was being caused to the brain.