Tag Archives: medicine

Mini-Medical School at the Faculty of Medical Sciences

Our friends over at the Faculty of Medical Sciences hold an annual series of interactive lectures and practical sessions over six weeks, open to anyone aged 15+ known as Mini Medical School. The aim of the programme is to offer the public an opportunity to find out about current research developments at the university and to learn more about clinical approaches and practices. We asked Heworth Grange student Kate Gordon, 16 to give us her account of the sessions:

I recently attended Newcastle University’s Mini Medical School of 2017. I was overjoyed when I received the confirmation email to say I had a place, however, I didn’t realise just how interesting and beneficial it would be.

“One of the best experiences I’ve had”

When I first arrived I was met by a member of the university team. They were so lovely and pleasant which made my friend and me feel comfortable and welcomed there in their facilities. Not to mention, the great variation of snacks that they provided each week!

On the first week we had Forensic Psychologist, Dr Gavin Oxburgh, speak to us about his part in helping the police with their enquiries. This was the best week for me, as I am very interested in Psychology and it offered insights into a new career path for me later in life. Gavin taught us about offender profiles and how to detect if a person is being deceitful. He also made us think of the circumstances of why people would lie. I really loved this session and even though it was quite a serious topic he made it light-hearted and engaging throughout.

On the second week of my visit Professor Louise Robinson taught us about dementia. This was very interesting for me as quite a lot of my family members suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. We learnt about the 3 different stages and how to prevent memory disorders.

On week 3 we learnt about prescribing drugs and how it’s revolutionised over the years. Dr Adam Todd presented this amazingly and made the topic very humorous. He taught us about opioids and how dangerous they can be. I really loved this session.

During week 4 of mini medical school we were presented with a session about kidney transplantation. As I had already learnt about this topic in biology it really helped as I was able to understand more. We discovered how dialysis has changed throughout the past 50 years and the newer alternatives. This helped me learn a lot more than I already knew.

On the fifth week the topic was named “Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll” this was a good name for the session as it was unknown to what we we’re going to talk about until we arrived. In this session we spoke about HIV and the treatment possible, along with all the other topics we looked at how it’s changed throughout the years. I really liked this evening as Dr Christopher Duncan and Dr Ewan Hunter included humour as well as knowledge.

“There was a range of subjects for everyone which was brilliant as it enabled anyone to participate”

I then attended a mini medical school practical, I chose the topic of Psychology. My day was split into two, first we looked at how the brain worked and the certain areas of it. In the second part we looked at eating disorders and the psychology behind it, for me that was so interesting as it really opened my eyes how to recognise it early, not in only myself but my peers too.

On the sixth and final week we talked about sun protection and dermatological skin problems. The speakers were amazing and worked so well as a team, they told us that even the most famous celebrities suffer from skin diseases such as acne, psoriasis, etc. We also completed a quiz on how to detect cancerous moles, a very helpful technique to use in life. I found this session very interesting and a great way to end the course.

Overall, the Mini Medical School is one of the best experiences I’ve had. I have loved every single minute of it and learnt so much from attending the sessions, it was very enjoyable and didn’t seem like a chore each week – I’m looking forward to next year!

 

To be added to the mailing list for next years Mini-Medical School, please email minimedicalschool@ncl.ac.uk

The Basics of Alzheimer’s Disease

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, a day to raise awareness for a disease that is likely to affect 1 million people in the UK by the year 2025. To mark the day, our Social Media Intern and Neuroscience student, Charlie Wilkinson has written a guest post for us:

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating neurodegenerative condition involving the death of nerve cells (neurones) in the brain, and the subsequent break down of communication between synapses.

Affecting millions worldwide, Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia in the elderly, affecting 850,000 people in the UK alone. The disease is associated with serious cognitive decline, including typical memory and language impairment. The disease has now overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in women.

The biological mechanisms that underpin the development of Alzheimer’s Disease can be boiled down to the formation of plaques, and tangles. The development of the condition is a result of faulty mechanisms in the brain for the breakdown of a specific protein.

Plaques 

Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP)  is a protein found abundantly in the brain, stuck in the membranes of neurones. The function of the protein is largely unknown, but the way this protein is broken down is the critical early event in Alzheimer’s Disease.

Proteins like APP are made up of many small units known as amino acids; enzymes have the ability to break down proteins by cutting at specific amino acid sites. If the APP protein is cut by one enzyme (alpha), the protein that’s formed is healthy and soluble. If however, APP is cleaved by another enzyme (beta), the protein that’s formed is diseased and insoluble. This diseased protein is known as beta-amyloid.

As more of this beta-amyloid protein is formed, the proteins start to stick together or aggregate, forming senile plaques. Although the way these plaques cause damage isn’t fully understood, it is theorised that the body reacting to the plaques with an inflammatory response leads to damage of neuronal cells in the brain, which is the typical symptom of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Tangles

The other proteins typically associated with Alzheimer’s Disease are neurofibrillary tangles. Tangles are formed through twisted fibres, formed as small protein units called ‘tau’ which stick together inside neurones.

The tau proteins are usually associated with the transport system inside these cells – nutrients are important for the function of these nerve cells, and transport systems supported by tau are important in moving nutrient and other supplies around the cell.

When tangles form using tau proteins, these transport systems essentially malfunction meaning nutrients and other essential products can’t be transported around the cell and the cell starts to die.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, and treatments can only target the cognitive decline and other symptoms associated with the disease. Treatments for the condition, however, are becoming ever more effective targeting different aspects of the disease. The determination of researchers to develop treatments to reduce the burden of the disease in sufferers, is encouraging for the future of Alzheimer’s disease.

The 21st September 2017 is world Alzheimer’s day. For more information about Alzheimer’s Disease and to find out how you can help combat this illness visit the Alzheimer’s Society here.

 

Ten Amazing Facts about the human body!

You take it everywhere you go, but I bet that there are a few facts about your body that you didn’t know!

1. There is enough DNA in the human body to stretch from the Sun to Pluto and back – 17 times! 

There are about 37 trillion cells in the human body, all of them containing about 5cm of of DNA (when uncoiled). DNA is made up of lots of different nucleotide pairs that can decide some of our features such as eye and hair colour.

2. The average human body contains ten times more bacterial cells than human cells.

However bacteria are much smaller so don’t take up that much space. Lots of these bacterial cells are important, such as intestinal bacteria that help keep our immune systems healthy.unravelled-dna

3. Except for identical twins, each person on Earth has a unique smell.

Just how we each have individual finger prints we all have our own smell. This is determined by your genes, and can be used by other animals to identify individuals.

4. An individual blood cell takes about 60 seconds to make a complete circuit of the body. 

The average heart pumps about 70ml of blood out with each beat and a healthy heart beats around 70 times a minute.

5. By the time you go to bed at night you are about 1 cm shorter than when you woke up that morning.

This is because the cartilage between your bones is compressed throughout the day.

6. Nerve impulses to and from the brain can travel as fast as 250 miles per hour. 

A nerve impulse is an electrical signal that sends messages to the brain when the nerve is triggered by a stimulus. It is really important that they travel fast, for example, if you burn your finger it’s important that your brain gets the message to stop touching it quickly.nerves

7. There are as many hairs per square inch on your body as a chimpanzee.

Humans are not quite the naked apes that we’re made out to be. We have lots of hair, but on most of us it’s not obvious as a majority of the hairs are too fine or light to be seen.

8. The human body is estimated to have 60,000 miles of blood vessels.

To put that in perspective, the distance around the earth is about 25,000 miles, so your blood vessels could travel more than two times around the Earth if laid out.blood-vessels

9. Babies are always born with blue eyes.

The colour of your eyes depends on the genes you get from your parents, but at birth most babies appear to have blue eyes. The reason behind this is the pigment melanin. The melanin in a newborn’s eyes often needs time after birth to be fully deposited or to be darkened by exposure to ultraviolet light, later revealing the baby’s true eye colour.

10. Every day an adult body produces 300 billion new cells.

Your body not only needs energy to keep your organs up and running but also to constantly repair and build new cells to form the building blocks of your body itself.