Welcome to the Otago School of Medical Sciences
Can prehabilitation improve patient outcomes following hip joint replacement?
11 April 2014
Three members of the OSMS (Department of Anatomy), in collaboration with a colleague from the School of Physiotherapy, were recently awarded a Jack Thomson Arthritis Fund (OMRF) grant to undertake a study entitled “Can prehabilitation improve patient outcomes following hip joint replacement?”.
Osteoarthritis of the hip is a common condition that can result in significant disability and reduced quality of life. Within New Zealand, approximately 9% of adults are affected by osteoarthritis with more than 7000 hip joint replacements performed per annum over the last five years. The fact that this disease typically affects older individuals means that hip osteoarthritis presents a major public health problem that is likely to intensify with the aging population.
This project has two main aims:
1. To determine whether an exercise programme undertaken before hip joint surgery (prehabilitation) is effective and feasible
2. To investigate if ultrasound imaging is a useful and reliable tool to assess hip abductor muscle volume (when compared to MRI)
If prehabilitation is useful, this sort of treatment programme may have the potential to help people with
hip osteoarthritis manage their pain and improve their function both before and following surgery. A better understanding of the structure of the hip abductor muscles in people with osteoarthritis may be achieved using ultrasound; this imaging modality is readily available, non-invasive, and affordable and has been used for assessing the architecture of a number of other muscle groups within the body. Specifically, this study will determine whether ultrasound is useful in measuring hip abductor muscle volume and whether changes are evident in the muscles following a period of exercise – as muscles get stronger they also usually get larger (as indicated by changes in muscle volume).
Photograph: Stephanie Woodley, Helen Nicholson, Natasha Flack (Department of Anatomy). Absent, Cathy Chapple (School of Physiotherapy).
Lotteries Grant for Protein Purification Equipment
10 April 2014
Lotteries Health recently awarded Dr. Peter Mace a sum of $62,000 for the purchase of an AKTA Pure protein purification system to support several research projects in the Biochemistry Department and other OSMS groups. This next-generation protein purification system will allow efficient, semi-automated purification of proteins on both small and large scales for a variety of downstream experiments. Purified protein is essential for many aspects of modern biomedical research, including biochemical assays to test protein activity, measurements of the physical size and shape of proteins and determining the three-dimensional structure of proteins. This system will be heavily used in Dr. Mace’s work studying signalling proteins that govern how cells respond to stress, as well as other groups studying proteins that influence the aetiology and treatment of cancer, heart disease and infectious diseases.
Appropriate responses to cellular stress are vital for health and survival of multicellular organisms. This may involve recognising when a cell has become severely damaged and committing to altruistic cell suicide, or sensing inflammatory signals from surrounding cells. These responses are generally managed by complex networks of signalling proteins, which interact with one another to connect upstream signals to suitable downstream responses. Dr. Mace’s research aims to understand the three-dimensional structure of these signalling proteins and how they switch between their active and inactive states. This switch is often regulated by ‘post-translational’ modifications such as attachment of phosphate onto specific parts of signalling proteins. Post-translational modifications are rapid, reversible and can influence protein behaviour in a large variety of ways. Understanding the precise three-dimensional structure of these switches will provide insight into how these signals become disjointed in diseases such as cancer and inflammatory disorders. Additionally, knowing how signalling proteins are controlled by their natural partners will provide clues as to the best locations on proteins to target potential therapeutic agents towards.
Herald Story for OSMS staff
8 April 2014
Associate Professor Tony Merriman (Biochemistry) and Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith (Anatomy) feature in a story in today's NZ Herald. Their research suggests that the high rates of the arthritic joint disease gout in Maori and Pacific peoples may be be related to evolutionary changes protecting against malaria. The article "Gout in Maori and Pacific People linked to protection from malaria" can be found here. Congratulations to Tony and Lisa for this exciting and ground-breaking research.
Poster Evening and Post Graduate Symposium
4 April 2014
The OSMS would like to thank all the students who took part in the Poster Evening and Postgraduate Symposium on the 27 and 28 March, and congratulate them for the high quality of their presentations. The Poster evening was well supported with a record number of students featuring their work and listening to the presentation by Professor Greg Cook from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, on “Life as a postgraduate student in the 1980s – we had it easy”. Greg’s message that hard work and perseverance has its place certainly resonated with the supervisors who were present!
The posters were judged by a small group of staff, including our visitors from the University of Queensland. The group had a very difficult task as the standard really was outstanding.
Awards for the posters were made to:
Andrew Highton (Dept. of Mirobiology and Immunology) Highly Commended-
Immunisation using a sustained release vaccine generates functional CD8 T cell memory
Josh Wright (Dept. of Biochemistry) Highly Commended –
Characterisation of the Arkadia and Ark2C RING domains.
Ashley Campbell (Dept. of Biochemistry) First place –
Expression of influenza neuraminidase in HEK293 cells.
The presentations on Friday also attracted a large number of high quality presentations that showcased the strength and variety of research in the OSMS. The Kapa Haka group from King’s and Queen’s High Schools gave a fantastic performance to give a change of beat to the day’s line up.
Awards for the oral presentations were made to:
Nicole Neverman (Dept. of Biochemistry) - Highly commended – Correction of pathological features in CLN6 neuronal ceroid lipofusinosis.
Chris Greeninng (Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology) Highly commended –
Atmospheric hydrogen: a lifeline for mycobacteria.
Febbie Sangkop (Department of Anatomy) First place –
The uric story: linking the big toe to the prostate.