University of Leicester |

 

eBulletin
Home >> News and Events >> [eBulletin] >> Research Summaries

 

May 2002

Department of Clinical Biochemistry
RM23002
Funding from Guerbet
Dr Alison Goodall
Funding has been awarded to investigate the interaction of angiographic contrast agents and drugs that block platelet aggregation. Contrast agents are used during the treatment of cardiac and surgical patients with “blocked arteries” to help visualise the inside of the artery.   We have previously demonstrated that some type of contrast agent causes blood platelets to be activated whilst other types do not. This project is designed to investigate whether some types of contrast agent could be more beneficial than others in patients who are being given antiplatelet drugs like abciximab.
April 2002

Department of Surgery
Sally Webster

Platelets are cells in the blood, which are involved in forming blood clots or thromboses. Aspirin, prevents the platelets from sticking together and forming these clots. In patients undergoing stroke prevention surgery, we have found that the aspirin stops affecting the platelets during the operation, leaving them at higher risk of forming clots in the artery and having a stroke or heart attack.

This study aims to examine how surgery causes aspirin to stop working. We will take a series of blood samples from patients undergoing an operation or procedure and test the platelets to see how they clot. The samples will be taken at different stages to identify which part of the operation changes the way the platelets react. We hope to understand the mechanism involved in these platelet changes, as this information may help to further reduce the risk of post-operative complications, such as stroke and heart attack.
April 2002


Department of Biochemistry
RM31057
Funding from Celltech
High Field NMR Studies of Small Molecules' Interactions with Proteins
Dr Mark Carr

High resolution structural information for proteins and protein-ligand complexes now plays a major role in the design and optimisation of new drug molecules. This grant provides support for a new collaboration with Medicinal Chemistry, Molecular Modelling and Protein Crystallography groups at Celltech (Dr Richard Taylor and colleagues), which will involve using NMR spectroscopy-based methods to probe the location, affinity and geometry of potential drug molecules binding to target proteins, with the aim of making a significant contribution to the direction of ongoing drug development programmes.
April 2002


Department of Genetics
Funding from Wellcome Trust 
Telomere Structure, Function and Architecture and their Role in Genome Stability
Professor Edward J. Louis

Our genes are encoded on long strings of DNA, which along with many proteins are packaged as chromosomes. The ends of our chromosomes, telomeres, are special and can be likened to the metal or plastic tips of shoelaces (called aglets). Like aglets, the telomeres protect our chromosomes from fraying. The telomeres have many properties that differ from the rest of our chromosomes and it is these properties that maintain the stability of our genomes. We are studying these properties at many levels from molecular genetics to biochemistry to cytology. The understanding of the role of telomeres in genome stability is key to understanding both short term problems like cancer and cellular senescence to long term processes such as genome evolution.
April 2002


Division of Cardiology
Preclinical Assessment of Antithrombotic and Antiproliferative Action of Stents Eluting Eptifibatide
Dr Kamal Chitkara
Angina is caused by narrowing of coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle. Such narrowings are increasingly treated by stretching the artery with a balloon catheter and implanting a metal device called a stent. Stents are scaffolding devices, which hold the artery open mechanically and can reduce the risk of renarrowing of the artery at the treated site. However, blood clots can occur on these stents and sometimes the artery re-narrows despite the stent. It is thought that these complications may be in part due to damage to the artery lining when the  stent is put in. We aim to show that a compound called eptifibatide which is commercially available for human use, can be used to coat stents before they are inserted and that it will reduce the complications associated with stents. 

We propose demonstrating that eptifibatide coated stents are a practical and effective means of limiting the complications of stenting, affecting both thrombosis (clot) and restenosis, especially in smaller coronary vessels.
April 2002

Department of Biology
The Role of Familiarity and Genetic Relatedness in Mediating Competition Between Group Living Fish
Funding from NERC
£202,617
Duration: 3 years
Dr Paul J B Hart

Competition is a major driving force in forming communities of animals and driving the origin of new species. As competing individuals are often known to each other or are genetically related, it might be expected that these two factors might play a part in structuring competitive interactions. The proposed research will experimentally examine how familiarity and genetic relatedness influence competitive interactions between threespine sticklebacks. Additional factors to be studied will be prey species and abundance, prey distribution, the influence of a threat of predation and the characteristics of the fish that influence prey capture. Such features are mouth width, eye size and the proportion between body length and depth. Addition work will develop mathematical models of competition to improve our understanding of how the various factors interact to determine the competitive outcome. This work will enhance the understanding of how fish communities work, hence underpinning the management of freshwater ecosystems.
April 2002

Department of Physics and Astronomy
AP 16174
Funding from INTAS

An Investigation of ULF Disturbances and Auroral Acceleration Processes in the Coupled Magnetosphere-Ionosphere System Using High Power HF Modification Experiments
Dr Tim Yeoman

Recent experiments with radio frequency heating experiments have demonstrated that artificial modification of the upper atmosphere (ionosphere) can lead to the release of energy stored in the Earth's magnetic field due to the coupling between the upper atmosphere and the magnetic field. There are many naturally-occurring geophysical phenomena whose generation is explained in terms of this interaction.  The investigation of similar phenomena which originate from an artificially modified ionosphere is a potentially powerful tool for investigating the physical mechanisms behind such phenomena.  This project is designed to study the artificial emissions with data from the CLUSTER satellites during intervals when they are magnetically conjugate with the high-power radio frequency facility at Tromso.  This project aims to extend this new and exciting work by bringing together the very considerable and diverse technical and theoretical expertise of scientific teams from the nations of the European Union and the former Soviet Union.
April 2002

Division of Medicine and Therapeutics

Analysis of Doppler Embolic Signals Using Non-Stationary Spectral Estimators 
Prof D H Evans

This award is under the Treaty of Windsor scheme that supports collaboration between British and Portuguese Universities (in this case the University of the Algarve). Using ultrasound techniques it is often possible to detect small bubbles or particles in the blood flowing through the brain of patients with various illnesses. Such particles can cause permanent damage to the brain and may result in stroke. The purpose of this collaboration is to explore the use of modern signal processing techniques with the aim of making the detection of such ‘emboli’ more reliable.
April 2002

Division of Medicine for the Elderly
Leicester Warwick Medical School
Funding from PPP Foundation
To Continue or Discontinue Existing Antihypertensive Therapy Acutely Post Stroke
Dr Thompson Robinson and Professor John Potter

Stroke is the most common life-threatening neurological condition, newly affecting 110,000 patients per annum in the United Kingdom. Stroke is the third most common cause of death, and most important single cause of adult disability. Up to 40% of acute stroke patients on hospital admission are already taking antihypertensive therapy, and most will develop elevated blood pressure levels as an acute complication of the stroke. However, no guidelines exist as to whether antihypertensive therapy should be continued or discontinued following acute stroke. The PPP Foundation-supported Continue Or Stop post-Stroke Antihypertensives Collaborative Study (COSSACS) is a United Kingdom based multi-centre, prospective, randomised, open, blinded-endpoint study to assess whether existing antihypertensive therapy should be continued or discontinued within 24 hours of stroke onset and for the subsequent two weeks. The trial will assess the short- (2 weeks) and long-term (6 months) rates of death and disability in the continued versus discontinued groups, and provide information to support the future evidence-based management of acute post-stroke hypertension.
April 2002


SIOP Nephroblastoma Clinical Trial Study
RM13065
UK Children's Cancer Study Group

Wilms tumour is an embryonal kidney cancer which already has high overall cure rates, approaching
85%. However, this success comes at a price for significant subgroups of patients whose treatment currently includes anthracyclines +/- radiotherapy, with their attendant risks of permanent sequelae on cardiac function, growth and fertility.  For these children, the question is whether their excellent disease free survival can be maintained with reduced therapy.  There is a second group of Wilms tumour patients in whom the outlook is less good, despite much more aggressive therapy (anaplastic Wilms tumour, slow responders and relapsed cases).  For these children, the question is whether their disease free survival can be improved by early adaptation of therapy to risk of relapse.
 The SIOP WT 2001 study provides a risk-adapted approach to treatment intensity for all children with Wilms tumour. Currently accepted clinical prognostic factors including tumour stage and histology are used to decide on overall duration and intensity of treatment. The study includes a randomised question on the need for anthracyclines in stage II and stage III tumours of intermediate risk histology (comprising - one third of all patients with Wilms tumour) and defines a new high risk histology group (blastemal predominant). There will be prospective collection of tumour material to allow analysis of the clinical significance of somatic genetic changes for future risk stratification. The prognostic significance of tumour volume reduction and histological response to chemotherapy will also be tested prospectively.
April 2002

Division of Histopathology
RM19028
Professor Peter Furness
Transplantation is accepted to be the best treatment for kidney failure; but on average a transplanted kidney fails after 10 to 15 years.  The second commonest cause of such failure is a recurrence in the transplant of the disease which originally destroyed the patient's kidneys.  Surprisingly little is known about this process, because the failure of a transplant is usually blamed on 'chronic rejection', an attack on the kidney by the patient's own immune system.

UK Transplant is an NHS Special Health Authority set up specifically to monitor and control transplantation in the UK. This project, organised by Professor Peter Furness in the University of Leicester, represents a collaboration with UK Transplant and with doctors all over the UK to monitor and assess the impact of recurrent disease in transplants.  It has been made possible by a 'no strings attached' gift from Fujisawa plc, a pharmaceutical company with a major interest in transplantation.
April 2002

Department of Oncology
RM471003
Funding from AICR

Professor Andy Gescher and Professor Will Steward
Consumption of large amounts of the curry constituent curcumin is suspected to prevent colorectal cancer.  Direct experimental evidence for this notion is still lacking. The project to be sponsored by AICR will address this issue.  The overall aim of the project is to correlate levels of curcumin and its breakdown products with chemopreventive efficacy as reflected by changes in biomarkers germane to chemoprevention.  To that end curcumin will be be given to patients earmarked to undergo colorectal surgery.  We will test the hypotheses that levels of curcumin can be achieved in the human colorectal tract which resemble those found to suppress malignacy in precancerous colon cells grown in culture, and that the levels of curcumin achievable in the human colorectal tract can alter biomarkers reflecting its chemopreventive efficacy. The results will help to decide if it is worthwhile to design an expensive intervention study of 10 to 20 years' duration, in which the ability of curcumin to prevent colon cancer in humans will tested.
April 2002


Department of Economic and Social History
Funding from ESRC

British Penal Settlements in South East Asia and the Indian Ocean, 1773-1906
Dr Clare Anderson
This programme of research takes a comparative and international approach to the history of British penal policy, by examining experiments in penology at the fringes of Empire. It will trace, compare and contextualise the penal, social and cultural history of Britain's transportation of c. 60,000 Indian convicts to settlements in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, from 1773, when transportation first began, to 1906, when the Cellular Jail in the Andaman Islands was completed. It will then consider how British experiences of Indian convict transportation impacted on penal policy at home.

Social and penal historians have neglected the influence of colonial penal policy on Britain. This comparative research seeks to fill this historiographical gap. It will show how individual and collective Indian convict experiences impacted on colonial policy, which in turn influenced metropolitan thinking. Further, it will consider the experiences of Indian convicts in relation to British felons and other colonial labour migrants. It will thus have a longer profile: in deepening historical understandings of British approaches to punishment and, in producing understandings of the relationships between the identities and cultures of immigrants and host populations, enhancing considerations of the meaning of citizenship in a globalised world.
April 2002


Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Funding from The Nuffield Foundation
RP15037
£5000
Profinite Homotopy Theory, Generalised Continuous Cohomology and Etale Homotopy

Dr Frank Neumann
This is a research project in homotopy theory, which is a part of algebraic topology, a modern branch of pure mathematics, which is of foundational character for many other branches of modern mathematics, like algebraic geometry, number theory, differential geometry or mathematical physics. The aim of this project is to study in a systematic and foundational way the homotopy theory of profinite simplicial sets and to investigate new algebraic invariants in form of generalised continuous cohomology theories.  This will have many new applications in other areas of pure mathematics.  Profinite groups,  for example, arise in a natural way in algebra and number theory as Galois groups of field extensions and its algebraic invariants like Galois cohomology can be considered as continuous cohomology of their classifying spaces.
April 2002



Department of Physics and Astronomy
PPARC NGST Grant
RP16-081

Next Generation Space Telescope - Mid-infrared Instrument: Phase-A Study
Dr John Pye
The Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST) will be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), and will provide astronomers world-wide with an observatory with ten-times the collecting power of the HST. NGST is being developed by NASA, with substantial contributions from Europe, and is scheduled for launch around 2010.

Leicester is a member of the European consortium designing the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) jointly with NASA. MIRI is one of three scientific instruments to be carried by NGST, and will have a thousand times the sensitivity of ground-based instruments in the same waveband (5-30 microns). Leicester is working closely with the Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh - the European lead institute, in the current 'Phase-A' study to define the MIRI instrument, provide detailed costs, plans and schedule, and identify critical areas, in preparation for the subsequent development phases due to start in early 2003.

This grant will allow staff in the Space Research Centre of the Department of Physics & Astronomy to undertake the University's assigned studies for Phase-A. These are primarily in the areas of structural analysis and design, in-orbit operations and calibration, and data reduction and analysis.
April 2002

Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
RP15040
London Mathematical Society
£1800

Visit of M. Shchukin
Dr John Hunton

This grant provides a visiting fellowship for Mikhail Shchukin (Belarusian
State University, Minsk) to come to Leicester to learn more of the grant holder's work on the K-theory of C* algebras arising from dynamics and quasiperiodicity.
April 2002


Department of Medicine
Clinical Database Administrator, Coronary Care,  UHL

The Leicester Royal Infirmary site of University Hospitals of Leicester has a uniquely detailed database of the treatment and outcome of heart attack and unstable angina from 1987 to the present time. This has been a period of exciting progress in therapeutic research – to which Leicester has been a major contributor. The clinical database has shown that these new advances have been effectively transferred from the research domain into routine care. Since 1987 there has been a 45% reduction in the risk of death in the year after hospital admission with a heart attack.

The new funding for the post of database administrator will allow the data system to cover all three acute hospitals in the city and link several existing specialised databases. The enhanced system will help to keep Leicester at the forefront of clinical research and patient care in this important field.
April 2002

UK Children's Cancer Study Group
CRUK Euro Ewing - Trial Co-ordination Grant
Dr Ablett
Ewing tumours most commonly arise in bone and appear to be derived from primitive neural cells.   Survival has improved with the use of effective chemotherapy in combination with surgery, radiotherapy or both, but survival rates vary.

This trial is a randomised, prospective, multicentre international study linking several co-operative groups in order to improve outcome in Ewing Tumour.  Patients with a confirmed diagnosis of Ewings Tumour will receive six courses of a four drug induction chemotherapy (VIDE) regime followed by local therapy to the primary tumour.  Patients will then be stratified into prognostic groups according to the presence and site of metastases and the volume of the primary tumour at diagnosis, the type of local therapy and histological response of the primary tumour to induction chemotherapy.

Patients in Group 1 will be randomised to test whether reducing the intensity of conventional consolidation treatment can be achieved without adversely affecting outcome.  Patients in Group 2 will be randomised to test whether replacing a conventional schedule with a high dose therapy schedule can improve outcome.  Analysis provided by participating co-operative groups indicates that 220 patients/year will be recruited into the study leading to a study period of 6 years.
April 2002

Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Funding from the Nuffield Foundation 
RP15039
Modular representations of symmetric, algebraic and related finite groups: branching, inductive systems, and asymptotics
Dr Alexander Baranov

The aim of the project is to study asymptotic phenomena in modular representation theory of symmetric, algebraic and related finite groups. The focus is on finding branching rules and description of inductive systems of representations for natural diagonal and non-diagonal embeddings of groups. It is also planned to investigate the relations between inductive systems of representations for symmetric groups and tensor ideals in the category of tilting modules for general linear groups.
April 2002



Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
RP15038

Numerical Methods for Stochastic Hamiltonian Systems and Langevin Type Equations 
Michael Tretyakov 
Preservation of structural properties in numerical integration of differential equations is an essential part of the modern deterministic numerical analysis. The project is one of the first attempts to consider this important issue in the context of stochastic differential equations.

Construction of symplectic methods in the weak sense for stochastic Hamiltonian systems is the first objective of the project. The interest is motivated by the fact that symplectic integrators in comparison with usual numerical schemes allow us to simulate Hamiltonian systems on very long time intervals with high accuracy.

Many problems of physics can be formulated in the form of Langevin equations (second-order differential equations with noise). Effective numerical integration of such systems is the second objective of the project. To construct new methods, preservation of structural properties of the original problem will be taken into account. The proposed methods will be used for studying models from physics.
April 2002


Department of Biochemistry
RM31057
Funding from Celltech
High field NMR studies of small molecules' interactions with proteins
Dr Mark Carr

High Field NMR Studies of Small Molecule Interactions with Proteins. High resolution structural information for proteins and protein-ligand complexes now plays a major role in the design and optimisation of new drug molecules. This grant provides support for a new collaboration with
Medicinal Chemistry, Molecular Modelling and Protein Crystallography groups at Celltech (Dr Richard Taylor and colleagues), which will involve using NMR spectroscopy-based methods to probe the location, affinity and geometry of potential drug molecules binding to target proteins, with the aim of making a significant contribution to the direction of ongoing drug development programmes.
April 2002


Leicester Children's Asthma Centre
Funding from Health Effects Institute (Boston, US)

This project aims to identify the factors influencing the loading of alveolar macrophages of normal children with carbonaceous particles that are consistent with those from diesel engines. Normal children will be recruited over an 24 month period. Modelled hourly exposure data to pollutant particles will be generated for the child’s home address and school using the Leicester City Council’s AIRVIRO model. Sputum will be induced using hypertonic saline. In each sputum sample, alveolar macrophage will be examined by electron microscopy, and the number of cell containing and carbonaceous nanoparticles determined. The identification of a strong association between modelled  PM10 exposure and actual deposition of particles in the lung will have significant benefits to further epidemiological studies in the role of DEP in disease causation. 
April 2002



Department of Physics and Astronomy
The LEicester Data Archive Service
AP16138

Funding from the Particle Physics and Astronomy  Research Council
Professor R S Warwick

The  acquisition  and analysis  of  large  complex  datasets forms  an essential part  of many current  research programmes in  astronomy and astrophysics.  An  on-line archive  of high energy  astrophysics data, derived from  space missions  such EXOSAT, Ginga  and ROSAT,  has been operational at  the University of Leicester since  September 1992. The LEicester Data  Archive Service (LEDAS) offers the  opportunity for UK astronomers  to engage  in  a wide  range  of archival-based  research programmes,  particular  those   relying  on  the  intercomparison  of measurements  made  using  a  range of  space-borne  and  ground-based
instruments.

A  grant  recently  awarded  by  the Particle  Physics  and  Astronomy Research  Council  to  the  University's  Department  of  Physics  and Astronomy  ensures  the continuation  of  the  LEDAS  programme for  a further two  years (April  2002 -March 2004).  During this  period the
research scene  in high energy  astrophysics will be dominated  by two missions,   namely   NASA's  Chandra   and   ESA's  XMM-Newton   Space Observatories. In partnership  with the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, LEDAS already provides  a ``mirror'' of the Chandra data archive within the  UK. The immediate challenge for  the project is to incorporate additional datasets derived from XMM-Newton into the LEDAS system in  order to offer enhanced  functionality for both  its UK and international users.
April 2002


Division of Cardiology
Preclinical assessment of antithrombotic and antiproliferative action of stents eluting eptifibatide
Dr K Chitkara

Angina is caused by narrowing of coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle. Such narrowings are increasingly treated by stretching the artery with a balloon catheter and implanting a metal device called a stent. Stents are scaffolding devices, which hold the artery open mechanically and can reduce the risk of renarrowing of the artery at the treated site. However, blood clots can occur on these stents and sometimes the artery re-narrows despite the stent. It is thought that these complications may be in part due to damage to the artery lining when the stent is put in. We aim to show that a compound called eptifibatide which is commercially available for human use, can be used to coat stents before they are inserted and that it will reduce the complications associated with stents.

We propose demonstrating that eptifibatide coated stents are a practical and effective means of limiting the complications of stenting, affecting both thrombosis (clot) and restenosis, especially in smaller coronary vessels.


Department of Biology
Dissecting the Cell Biology of Plastid Division 
Dr Simon Geir Møller

Plastids are tremendously important as photosynthetic organelles and as sites for many important intermediary metabolic pathways and one of the most important aspect of maintaining plastid functionality is plastid division. We are taking an integrative approach using advanced proteomics and cell biology to isolate novel plastid division components, examining intraplastidic “real-time” localisation dynamics in three-dimensions and probing functionality using reverse genetics. We are also dissecting global nuclear gene expression profiles in response to temporal plastid division arrest. The research proposed will not only aid in understanding the cell biology of plastid division but will also lead to agricultural applications.
April 2002

Back to [eBulletin] index

News
Features
Out and About
People
Events Diary
Notices
Media Coverage
Higher Education News
Bulletin + Research/Books Supplement
Press Release Archive

 


[University Home][Press and Publications][University Index A-Z][University Search][University Help]

Last updated: March 2002 
Created by: Rachel Tunstall
Maintained by: Barbara Whiteman

This document has been approved by the head of department or section.
If you are an authorised user you may edit this document through your Web browser.