Undergrad endocrinology work to be recognised by society

Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science, Dr Matthew Simmonds, has been awarded an Undergraduate Achievement Award grant from the Society for Endocrinology.

Dr Simmonds’ research at the University of Lincoln involves investigating genetic predictors of long-term pancreas transplant function in people with type 1 diabetes.

This grant awarded by the society will help to promote endocrinology and diabetes research within the School of Life Sciences Undergraduate programmes and also across the Biomedical Science (MBio) programme.

The Society for Endocrinology will be sponsoring a £100 prize/certificate for the best endocrine/diabetes third year undergraduate project and a £200 prize/certificate for the best endocrine/diabetes MBio project.

Find out more about the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln.

Academic contribution to field recognised by Physiological Society

Prof Paul Squires has been elected as Fellow of the Physiological Society (London).  The Fellowship recognises his continuous and active service to physiology over a 25 year period, and is based on research excellence and ongoing studies that examine how cells communicate with each other to maintain function in health and disease.

Prof Squires joined the University of Lincoln in 2014 and has published in excess of 75 research articles in the area of diabetes and endocrinology. As lead for the new Diabetes, Metabolism & Inflammation (DMI) Research Group at the School of Life Sciences, Prof Squires has been instrumental in making diabetes research a major strength within Life Sciences at Lincoln. The DMI Group is generously supported by external grants from Diabetes UK, the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes (EFSD) and the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation (DRWF) and its members work with a number of Charities and Societies to promote patient participation & involvement in research designed to impact on the end user.

The Physiological Society brings together over 3,500 scientists from over 60 countries. Since its foundation in 1876, its Members have made significant contributions to our knowledge of biological systems and the treatment of disease.

The Society promotes physiology and supports those working in the field by organising world-class scientific meetings, offering grants for research, collaboration and international travel, and by publishing the latest developments in leading scientific journals, The Journal of Physiology, Experimental Physiology and Physiological Reports. The Society also runs events for the general public on how physiology relates to everyday life, and for students who may be considering physiology as a career.  For more information please visit www.physoc.org.

The School of Life Sciences ranks highly in NSS 2017 Results

Students have rated the University of Lincoln in the top 20 in the UK for academic support, learning resources and learning community and was also ranked in the top third of institutions in the UK for overall satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2017.

The School of Life Sciences scored highly, with rankings listed below.

  • BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare (NSS subject area – Animal Science) – Animal Sciences at the University of Lincoln ranked number 1 in the UK for academic support, with 100% of students studying BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare stating they are satisfied overall according to the National Student Survey 2017.
  • BSc (Hons) Biochemistry (NSS subject area – Molecular Biology, Biophysics and Biochemistry) – Biochemistry at the University of Lincoln ranked number 1 in the UK for overall satisfaction and learning resources, second for academic support, and third for learning community according to the National Student Survey 2017.
  • BSc (Hons) Biology (NSS subject area – Biology) – Biology at the University of Lincoln ranked in the top 20% in the UK for academic support and learning opportunities, with 100% of students stating that staff are available when they are needed according to the National Student Survey 2017.
  • BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science (NSS subject area – Other subjects allied to Medicine) – 100% of students studying BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science at the University of Lincoln agreed the course was intellectually stimulating, and the subject ranked in the top 20% in the UK for academic support according to the National Student Survey 2017.
  • BSc (Hons) Biovetinary Science (NSS subject area – Animal Science) – Animal Sciences at the University of Lincoln ranked number 1 in the UK for academic support, and 100% of students studying BSc (Hons) Biovetinary Science stated they have access to course-specific resources when needed according to the National Student Survey 2017.
  • BSc (Hons) Zoology (NSS subject area – Zoology) – Zoology at the University of Lincoln ranked number 1 in the UK for assessment and feedback, learning opportunities and organisation and management, and second in the UK for academic support, learning community, learning resources and student voice according to the National Student Survey 2017.

Find out more about the School of Life Sciencesor take a look at our Undergraduate Programmes on offer.

The Science of Asthma; a public lecture at Uni of Lincoln

World Asthma Day is on Tuesday 2nd May 2017 and in support of asthma awareness, Dr Neil Holden (pictured), a scientist specialising in asthma research at the University of Lincoln, UK, will explore The Science of Asthma.

Asthma is a condition that affects 1 in 11 people in the UK and costs the NHS billions of pounds each year, yet is still something of a mystery to scientists, doctors and sufferers alike.

His public lecture will take be at 5:30pm – 7:30pm in the Cargill Lecture Theatre on the University’s Brayford Pool Campus and will examine the underlying science behind asthma, focusing on its three common aspects:

  • inflammation
  • tightening of the airways
  • changes to the structure of the lungs

Dr Holden advised: “Almost everyone knows someone who suffers from asthma. At least 5.4 million people in the UK receive treatment to try and control the symptoms, yet very few people understand exactly what causes these symptoms. Asthma isn’t just a minor ailment, it can be extremely serious and deaths caused by asthma in Lincolnshire in 2016 were at a 10-year high.”

Based at our School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, Dr Holden is carrying out cutting-edge research that examines the causes of and treatments for asthma. Despite being such a wide-spread condition, it is an extremely complicated disease, with individual cases reacting to different triggers and responding differently to medication.

“The research we are doing here at Lincoln aims to better understand the condition, and also asthma medications work,” Dr Holden explained. “Corticosteroids are one of the main medications used to treat people with asthma. These drugs were approved several decades ago and while we know they are extremely effective anti-inflammatories, we don’t understand all of the mechanisms that make them work.

“My research looks at how asthma medications affect the human immune system, and how these mechanisms change when asthmatics have viral lung infections. If we can understand how asthma medications work, we may in the future be able to replicate this with new treatments, but without some of the negative side effects caused by current drugs.”

Dr Holden previously worked in the pharmaceutical industry for leading research-based biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, before moving into academia and pursuing his research at the University of Lincoln.

His talk will be accessible to all and will explain how members of the public can get involved and contribute to his research.

You can book your place online. Places are free, however, places are limited and should be booked online in advance.

Cell-to-cell communication discovery unlocks new potential

Our School’s Dr Enrico Ferrari and an international team of scientists have discovered that ‘size matters’ in cell-to-cell communication. When it comes to the mechanisms that cells use to communicate with each other, cell size really does matter, according to pioneering new nanobiotechnology research which has important implications for the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

This research has been to advance the understanding of ‘exosomes’ – tiny biological structures (or ‘vesicles’) which are used by cells in the body to transfer information. The researchers believe the findings could be significant for several fields of medical science, from personalising medical treatments to better understanding the growth and spread of cancerous tumours.

Exosomes are packed with proteins and RNA. They can be generated by one cell, taken up by another, and trigger a specific response. To date, scientific research has focused on the content of exosomes, but a new study led by scientists at the University of Lincoln, UK, focused instead on the size of exosomes and how this affects the way they work.

Dr Ferrari (centre)
Dr Ferrari (centre)

Led by Dr Enrico Ferrari, a specialist in nanobiotechnology, the team discovered that the smaller the exosomes are, the easier it is for target cells to pick them up. This makes communication between cells much faster. The study examined exosomes taken from a patient with a high-grade glioma (rapidly growing brain tumour). The researchers had previously found that some stem cells within the patient’s brain were producing exosomes that were responsible for supporting cancer cells and making them more aggressive.

Their latest work suggests that the level of aggression in a tumour could be determined by the size of the exosomes produced by the cancerous cells – for example the smaller the exosomes, the faster the cells can communicate and reproduce, and the quicker the cancer develops.

These initial findings could therefore have important implications for the prognosis of different cancers in the future, as doctors may be able to examine the size of the exosomes produced and more accurately predict the course of a patient’s tumour. The study was carried out by researchers from our School of Life Sciences, the Department of Medical and Biological Sciences at the University of Udine, and the Department of Neuroscience at Santa Maria della Misericordia University Hospital, both in Italy. The findings are published in the scientific journal, Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine.

“Rather than looking inside the exosome, we decided to take a detailed look at the nature of the vehicle, specifically its size”, explained Dr Ferrari. “If you think of an exosome as a package, regardless of the specific molecules it carries, the nature of the ‘envelope’ is likely to be of great importance to the delivery of the message. The larger the envelope, the more difficult it is to deliver!

“Previous research has examined how size affects the behaviour of artificial nanoparticles in a human body, and this new study found that biological particles like exosomes may act in much the same way – the smaller they are, the ‘louder’ their message is, as it is easier for target cells to take them up and ‘hear’ the message.

“Traditionally it has been difficult to observe this behaviour in exosomes because they are extremely small (well below optical resolution), very elusive, and difficult to isolate. However, our team developed a new set of techniques to overcome all of these factors and answer important questions about size-dependent uptake, which previously have not been addressed.

“The size of different exosomes has been explored in a few other studies, but never in relation to how effectively they can deliver their messages.”

The new research could also have future implications for the delivery of medicine, as exosomes could potentially be used as nanocarriers for specific drugs. The scientists predict that it may be possible to manipulate the size of exosomes used in therapeutics to make them more effective, and to use the personalised exosomes produced in the human body – or particles which mimic the way they behave – to achieve more targeted and efficient drug delivery. This process is called exotherapy.

The team now hopes to pursue further research in this area to more accurately understand the impact of exosome size on the way that cells communicate, and develop ways this knowledge can be used in the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of individual patients. The research paper detailing the team’s findings in full, entitled Size-dependent cellular uptake of exosomes, will feature in the April issue of Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine and is available to read online.