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News Article | April 18, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Saturated fat is a prime suspect in the onset of osteoarthritis after QUT scientists found it changed the composition of cartilage, particularly in the weight-bearing joints of the hip and knee. Research, published today in Scientific Reports, conducted by Professor Yin Xiao, from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and his team, in collaboration with Professor Lindsay Brown and his team at University of Southern Queensland, is possibly the first study to investigate the association between osteoarthritis and common dietary fatty acids. The researchers studied the effects on joints of diets rich in a variety of saturated fatty acids found in such foods as butter, coconut oil, palm oil and animal fat, and simple carbohydrates - a high-fat, high carbohydrate diet common to "junk food". "Our findings suggest that it's not wear and tear but diet that has a lot to do with the onset of osteoarthritis," Professor Xiao said. "The main function of cartilage is to seal the bone ends in a joint and absorb pressure on the bones during weight-bearing movement such as walking. "We found that a diet containing simple carbohydrates together with 20 per cent saturated fats produced osteoarthritic-like changes in the knee. "Saturated fatty acid deposits in the cartilage change its metabolism and weaken the cartilage, making it more prone to damage. This would, in turn, lead to osteoarthritic pain from the loss of the cushioning effect of cartilage. "We also found changes in the bone under the cartilage on a diet rich in saturated fat." PhD student Sunder Sekar said the team tested lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid found in coconut oil. "Interestingly, when we replaced the meat fat in the diet with lauric acid we found decreased signs of cartilage deterioration and metabolic syndrome so it seems to have a protective effect," Mr Sekar said. He said fatty acids could cause tissue inflammation in the entire "joint environment". "We tested a variety of saturated fats and found that long term use of animal fat, butter, and palm oil could weaken the cartilage. "Replacement of traditional diets containing coconut-derived lauric acid with palm oil-derived palmitic acid or animal fat-derived stearic acid has the potential to worsen the development of both metabolic syndrome and osteoarthritis." Professor Xiao's previous research has found that antioxidants and anti-cholesterol drugs could slow the progression of joint damage caused by fatty acids. The study is supported by the Prince Charles Hospital Research Foundation.


News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

Saturated fat is a prime suspect in the onset of osteoarthritis after QUT scientists found it changed the composition of cartilage, particularly in the weight-bearing joints of the hip and knee. Research, published today in Scientific Reports, conducted by Professor Yin Xiao, from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and his team, in collaboration with Professor Lindsay Brown and his team at University of Southern Queensland, is possibly the first study to investigate the association between osteoarthritis and common dietary fatty acids. The researchers studied the effects on joints of diets rich in a variety of saturated fatty acids found in such foods as butter, coconut oil, palm oil and animal fat, and simple carbohydrates - a high-fat, high carbohydrate diet common to "junk food". "Our findings suggest that it's not wear and tear but diet that has a lot to do with the onset of osteoarthritis," Professor Xiao said. "The main function of cartilage is to seal the bone ends in a joint and absorb pressure on the bones during weight-bearing movement such as walking. "We found that a diet containing simple carbohydrates together with 20 per cent saturated fats produced osteoarthritic-like changes in the knee. "Saturated fatty acid deposits in the cartilage change its metabolism and weaken the cartilage, making it more prone to damage. This would, in turn, lead to osteoarthritic pain from the loss of the cushioning effect of cartilage. "We also found changes in the bone under the cartilage on a diet rich in saturated fat." PhD student Sunder Sekar said the team tested lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid found in coconut oil. "Interestingly, when we replaced the meat fat in the diet with lauric acid we found decreased signs of cartilage deterioration and metabolic syndrome so it seems to have a protective effect," Mr Sekar said. He said fatty acids could cause tissue inflammation in the entire "joint environment". "We tested a variety of saturated fats and found that long term use of animal fat, butter, and palm oil could weaken the cartilage. "Replacement of traditional diets containing coconut-derived lauric acid with palm oil-derived palmitic acid or animal fat-derived stearic acid has the potential to worsen the development of both metabolic syndrome and osteoarthritis." Professor Xiao's previous research has found that antioxidants and anti-cholesterol drugs could slow the progression of joint damage caused by fatty acids. The study is supported by the Prince Charles Hospital Research Foundation.


News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

QUT researchers have investigated how vision can affect a child's ongoing learning, with results showing 30 per cent of Year 3 students tested had uncorrected eye problems that could affect their academic performances. Importantly, the children referred for further optometric examination had significantly lower NAPLAN scores in Reading, Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation, and Numeracy subtests. The study has been published in the International Journal of Education Research. Dr Sonia White, Senior Research Fellow from QUT's Faculty of Education said 109 Year 3 students were involved in the multidisciplinary study that combined optometry and education research, and was funded by the Ian Potter Foundation. "Children's eyes need to be tested early in primary school and throughout schooling to ensure they can fully engage with the visual aspects of classroom learning," Dr White said. Joined by Professor Joanne Wood, Dr Alexander Black and Dr Shelley Hopkins from QUT's School of Optometry and Vision Science, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), Dr White said the ongoing research has involved six schools across South-east Queensland. "In our current follow-up project, funded by the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation (Eldon & Anne Foote Trust Donor Advised Program 2015), we are investigating whether vision intervention one year earlier, in Year 2, can ameliorate the differences in achievement we saw in the Year 3 children," Professor Wood said. "We hypothesise that early vision interventions could support children's development of literacy and numeracy and subsequent classroom learning and achievement." Dr White said vision screening and assessment was not currently mandated prior to children commencing school, which may mean that some of the children will have vision and visual processing difficulties that remain undetected by parents and teachers. Dr White said schools that were involved in the study had anecdotally reported big improvements, with some children showing a marked increase in their reading level and greater classroom participation. As well as vision assessment, children completed a range of near vision learning tasks, such as reading and mathematics, while eye tracking was used to examine specific visual processing behaviours underlying these activities. "The aim is to level the playing field in terms of vision and provide every opportunity for learning and academic achievement for children in school and later life," Professor Wood said. A pdf version of the study is available on request.


News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A test to assess the effect of red Smarties on happiness has been used to teach the often "dull" or "boring" concepts of clinical research. The study, published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health, was based on a mock randomised control trial (RCT) across three countries and involved students at QUT and health professionals in Canada and Malaysia. Health professionals and students who were learning to understand what makes good research and how clinical trials are run became the participants in the study. They were given a package at the start of the lecture which included a programmed infrared clicker to collect data and a small fun pack of unseen Smarties that were either red or yellow. Their level of happiness was recorded on a scale of 1-10 at the start and end of the lecture, during which they blindly consumed the chocolate while observed by a fellow participant. Lead researcher QUT Professor Philip Baker said it was interesting that the results found eating red Smarties had no impact on happiness over the yellow candy-coated chocolate. "Red is often associated with feelings of happiness and the trial tested this assumption," Professor Baker said. "We had hypothesised if the lecture was boring or difficult to understand and it would have resulted in a significant loss in happiness in all groups, however, the happiness data indicated that the participants' mood remained unchanged. "This debunks the myth that red Smarties increase happiness and as a result a 'lived in' trial can turn a complex epidemiology lecture into an interesting teaching technique. "It also shows that epidemiology and the study of research methods can be fun and engaging." Professor Baker from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation joined Faculty of Health's Associate Professor Daniel Francis and QUT Business School Professor Abby Cathcart in the development and design of the trial. He said the mock trial illustrated the importance of minimising bias and the challenges of conducting quality research using a hands-on and visual approach. Professor Philip Baker said the aim was to apply and assess an authentic teaching approach to epidemiology and critical appraisal - with learners as participants rather than "just lecturing at students". "Students get involved in the clinical trial and thereby learn complex scientific techniques first-hand in a fun way," Professor Baker said. Professor Baker received a 2013 Vice-Chancellor's award for innovations in teaching and Professor Abby Cathcart was last year's winner of the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.


The 'gel' is a new 3D printable material developed by QUT researchers that opens the way to rapid, personalised cancer treatment by enabling multiple, simultaneous tests to find the correct therapy to target a particular tumour. Professor Dietmar W. Hutmacher from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation said the new material was a gelatine-based hydrogel that mimicked human tissue. The method for producing the gelatine-based hydrogel is published in the journal Nature Protocols. "Hydrogel is a biomaterial used by thousands of researchers around the globe; gelatine is based on collagen, one of the most common tissues in the human body. We have modified the gelatine to engineer 3D tumour microenvironments," Professor Hutmacher said. "Our big breakthrough is we can produce this high-quality material on a very large scale inexpensively. "It is highly reproducible which means we have been able to produce this hydrogel hundreds of times, not just once or twice in the lab, so researchers worldwide will be able to create it." Professor Hutmacher said the new hydrogel could be used as a 'bioink' to print 3D 'microenvironments' or models of a tumour to test different anti-cancer drugs. "We will be able to use this hydrogel infused with tumour cells to quickly create a number of models of patient-specific tumours. "Instead of the sometimes hit and miss chemotherapy that affects every cell in the body this will allow us to test different anti-cancer drugs and different combinations of them all at once so that we can pinpoint an individualised treatment that will hit only the cancer cells. "It will cut the process of finding a personalised treatment for each patient down to a week or two." Because the hydrogel can be modified to mimic the firmness of cartilage or softness of breast tissue it can be used to create models for all types of cancer and also for research on stem cells and tissue engineering. The IHBI research team includes Dr Daniela Loessner, Associate Professor Travis Klein and PhD student Christoph Meinert. The study, Functionalization, preparation and use of cell-laden gelatin methacryloyl-based hydrogels as modular tissue culture platforms was published this week. The new hydrogel discovery is part of Biofabrication Research led by Professor Hutmacher at IHBI, which launched the world's first Master of Biofabrication, a dual Australian and European master degree. "We are seeking more students for the masters course at IHBI from all science and technology disciplines," Professor Hutmacher says. "Biofabrication is the future of medicine. It is a multidisciplinary area of research that requires an understanding of chemistry, physics, biology, medicine, robotics and computer science and we welcome graduates from any of these fields to apply for the master degree." Explore further: Breakthrough in 3-D printing of replacement body parts More information: Daniela Loessner et al. Functionalization, preparation and use of cell-laden gelatin methacryloyl–based hydrogels as modular tissue culture platforms, Nature Protocols (2016). DOI: 10.1038/nprot.2016.037


News Article | March 15, 2016
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

A global study involving 50 different research centers has found hundreds of genes which cause five common, hard-to-treat and debilitating inflammatory diseases, paving the way to new treatments for these conditions. Led by Brisbane's QUT and Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel, Germany, the results of the world-first study have been published in the international journal Nature Genetics. Co-senior author Professor Matthew Brown, from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, said they investigated ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis (collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease), psoriasis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis. "These diseases affect about three per cent of the world's population, and commonly occur together in families and in individuals. The big question has been whether this is due to shared environmental risk factors, or due to shared genes and now we believe we have the answer," Professor Brown said. "The research has conclusively demonstrated these conditions occur together mostly because they share similar genetic backgrounds. "Studying nearly 86,000 subjects from 26 countries, our researchers identified 244 genetic variants which control whether or not people develop these conditions, a large proportion of which were completely new findings. "They found that for nearly all of these diseases the reason they frequently occur together in individuals is due to the different diseases sharing genetic risk factors, rather than one disease causing the other. "For some diseases such as the common form of spinal arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, the study roughly trebled the number of genes known to be involved." Professor Brown said the new gene discoveries pointed to some potential new therapies, including agents already in use for other diseases which can now be trialed in these conditions very promptly. "The discoveries have shed new light onto the causes of these diseases, such as identifying genetic risk variants which most likely work by affecting the bacteria present in the gut, in turn causing inflammation in joints, the liver or the gut itself," Professor Brown said. "These study findings are a major leap forward in our understanding of these common but difficult-to-treat diseases. "It has been known for over 50 years these conditions frequently occur together in individuals and families. We now know this is mainly because the genes involved affect the risk of many diseases, and that the diseases are therefore very similar in their underlying causes, even if they present in such different ways. "This research has pointed us to several different potential therapeutic targets for these diseases, for which there is a huge global need for better therapies."


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Jonathan Peake and Oliver Neubauer, from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, led a research review of studies about exercise and immunity. They found the best way to avoid unfavorable changes in the immune system during a post-workout recovery was consuming carbs during or immediately after the exercise. The paper was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. "There is intense interest in what athletes can do to recover faster from exercise," Peake said. "Among various nutritional strategies to counteract immune depression during exercise recovery, carbohydrates have proven the most effective. Ingesting carbohydrates during vigorous exercise may help, because carbohydrates maintain blood sugar levels. "Having stable blood sugar levels reduces the body's stress response, which in turn, moderates any undesirable mobilization of immune cells. However, more research is warranted to verify that this also helps to prevent infections and illnesses." Peake said exercise can increase and decrease the number of immune cells in blood. But he said studies did not support the long-held belief that exercising regularly without allowing sufficient time for the immune system to return to normal increased the risk of a weakened immune system. "People often have fewer natural killer white blood cells after a workout but we now believe they move to other parts of the body, rather than being destroyed. "Exercise is a form of stress and more vigorous exercise creates more physiological stress which causes physiological and biochemical changes in the body. To tackle the potential threats these changes highlight, the immune cells may simply move out of the blood stream to the lungs, for example. "This still leaves our bodies vulnerable to infections and, generally speaking, the more strenuous the exercise, the longer it takes for the immune system to return to normal. "Epidemiological evidence suggests that regular moderate exercise protects against upper respiratory illnesses, like the common cold, whereas regular intense exercise increases the risk of upper respiratory illnesses." Neubauer said the research suggested most people only need carbohydrates during high-intensity or prolonged exercise of 90 minutes or more. "The consumption of carbohydrates before and during strenuous exercise not only improves endurance performance, but it can also minimize exercise-related immune disturbances," he said. "Between 30 and 60 grams of carbohydrates every hour during exercise help to support normal immune function. Examples of carbohydrates that could be consumed during exercise include carbohydrate-containing fluids, gels and bars consisting of different carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose. Alternatively, bananas may also do the job. "As general advice for people who train for and participate in endurance events, any products should be tested if they are tolerated in the field. "Consuming carbohydrates in the first few hours immediately after strenuous exercise also helps to restore immune function. This is especially important in situations where the recovery duration between two consecutive exercise sessions is short, which is often the case for athletes." The researchers did not find sufficient evidence to recommend 'immune-boosting' supplements, for example antioxidants. "A diversified and well-balanced diet is most likely sufficient to help maintain immune function following longer-term exercise training. "Sleep is recognized as important for maintaining immune function. However more research is needed to understand the influence of sleep on immunity in athletes."


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Eating carbohydrates during intense exercise helps to minimise exercise-induced immune disturbances and can aid the body's recovery, QUT research has found Dr Jonathan Peake and Dr Oliver Neubauer, from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, led a research review of studies about exercise and immunity. They found the best way to avoid unfavourable changes in the immune system during a post-workout recovery was consuming carbs during or immediately after the exercise. The paper was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. "There is intense interest in what athletes can do to recover faster from exercise," Dr Peake said. "Among various nutritional strategies to counteract immune depression during exercise recovery, carbohydrates have proven the most effective. Ingesting carbohydrates during vigorous exercise may help, because carbohydrates maintain blood sugar levels. "Having stable blood sugar levels reduces the body's stress response, which in turn, moderates any undesirable mobilisation of immune cells. However, more research is warranted to verify that this also helps to prevent infections and illnesses." Dr Peake said exercise can increase and decrease the number of immune cells in blood. But he said studies did not support the long-held belief that exercising regularly without allowing sufficient time for the immune system to return to normal increased the risk of a weakened immune system. "People often have fewer natural killer white blood cells after a workout but we now believe they move to other parts of the body, rather than being destroyed. "Exercise is a form of stress and more vigorous exercise creates more physiological stress which causes physiological and biochemical changes in the body. To tackle the potential threats these changes highlight, the immune cells may simply move out of the blood stream to the lungs, for example. "This still leaves our bodies vulnerable to infections and, generally speaking, the more strenuous the exercise, the longer it takes for the immune system to return to normal. "Epidemiological evidence suggests that regular moderate exercise protects against upper respiratory illnesses, like the common cold, whereas regular intense exercise increases the risk of upper respiratory illnesses." Dr Neubauer said the research suggested most people only need carbohydrates during high-intensity or prolonged exercise of 90 minutes or more. "The consumption of carbohydrates before and during strenuous exercise not only improves endurance performance, but it can also minimise exercise-related immune disturbances," he said. "Between 30 and 60 grams of carbohydrates every hour during exercise help to support normal immune function. Examples of carbohydrates that could be consumed during exercise include carbohydrate-containing fluids, gels and bars consisting of different carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose. Alternatively, bananas may also do the job. "As general advice for people who train for and participate in endurance events, any products should be tested if they are tolerated in the field. "Consuming carbohydrates in the first few hours immediately after strenuous exercise also helps to restore immune function. This is especially important in situations where the recovery duration between two consecutive exercise sessions is short, which is often the case for athletes." The researches did not find sufficient evidence to recommend 'immune-boosting' supplements, for example antioxidants. "A diversified and well-balanced diet is most likely sufficient to help maintain immune function following longer-term exercise training. "Sleep is recognised as important for maintaining immune function. However more research is needed to understand the influence of sleep on immunity in athletes."


News Article | December 8, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A 'MiGGi Moment' by your brain could trigger the urge to drink alcohol, smoke or eat comfort food: QUT neuroscientist A QUT neuroscientist internationally acclaimed for her research on alcohol and sugar addiction claims brainpower rather than willpower is the key to living healthily. Professor Selena Bartlett from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation said diets alone were rarely successful and our brains dictated our behaviour in a way unchanged since prehistoric times. "Our brain responds to stress in an ancient way but it is possible to override it," said Professor Bartlett who has just published a book - MiGGi Matters: How to train your brain to manage stress and trim your body. "Despite all the information out there on the dangers of being overweight and advice from countless weight-loss gurus, the Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that 63 per cent of Australian adults are overweight or obese. "There is also overwhelming evidence that for many people who to lose weight through dieting, they quickly regain it. Diets can in fact make us fatter and more stressed. "This is because we ignore our brain, which silently drives our behaviour as if we are still ancient humans living in prehistoric conditions. "The same applies to addictive behaviours. When we are stressed our brain seeks pleasure and that's the problem." Professor Bartlett said the brain has developed in complexity as humans have evolved and has three distinct sections - survival, emotional and rational. "The survival section of the brain controls our heart beat, breathing and keeps us alive. The emotional section, in particular the amygdala, protects us from perceived danger by instigating a 'fight or flight' response while the rational section drives our functions like impulse control, planning and decision making," Professor Bartlett said. "In today's stressful world of work, finances, relationships, parenting and other responsibilities the body releases stress hormones like cortisol. Over time stress hormones significantly reduce the number of synapses in the brain. This in turn impacts our rational brain and can reduce our impulse control. "To counteract the damage caused by stress hormones, the ancient, emotional part of our brain drives us to find pleasure. When we experience pleasure, our body is flooded with hormones like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. These bind to receptors in the brain and reduce the damaging effect of stress hormones. "So the more stress you experience, the more your brain seeks pleasure to counter it. "When our ancient brain demands a pleasurable experience, it is common to reach for alcohol, sweet treats and comfort food. This is a problem for two reasons - they are high in calories leading to weight gain, and they are addictive." Professor Bartlett's latest research shows sugar increases a neurochemical that binds to nicotinic receptors in the brain in the same way as alcohol and nicotine. Regular consumption of sugar, alcohol and nicotine change the brain, leading to the need to consume more and more to feel the same level of pleasure. "Just like alcohol and nicotine, a sudden decrease in sugar consumption will lead to withdrawal symptoms and cravings," she said. "To overcome this we need to override the ancient brain. When the rational brain is in charge; sustainable weight loss is possible." Professor Bartlett's book outlines the following five steps to help make this happen: MiGGi Matters: How to train your brain to manage stress and trim your body is available for sale at AU$33 for a print version or AU$24.95 in ebook for at http://www.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Why MiGGi Matters when it comes to re-training your brain It's more than halfway through February and for many those hopeful New Year's resolutions to make some positive changes have fallen by the wayside. A QUT neuroscientist may have the answer to sticking with them long-term. Professor Selena Bartlett from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IBHI) said many New Year's resolutions revolved around mental and physical health. "Giving up smoking, drinking less alcohol, eating less sugar, losing weight, taking a break from social media, being less stressed or spending more time with family and friends rather than at work - these are all popular choices for resolutions," Professor Bartlett said. "Other popular goals are saving money, learning a new instrument or language, more 'me' time, reducing debt or doing more for charity. "Unfortunately while intentions may be noble people do put themselves under enormous pressure and then experience depression and disappointment when they cave in to their impulses. "This is because our brains control our behaviour in a way unchanged since prehistoric times. This is especially true of how we respond to stress but it is possible to override the ancient brain." Professor Bartlett has just published a book - MiGGi Matters: How to train your brain to manage stress and trim your body. "Our brain silently drives our behaviour as if we are still ancient humans living in prehistoric conditions and it feeds our addictive behaviours. So when we are stressed our brain seeks pleasure which is quite often why New Year's resolutions are so easily broken," she said. "Everybody wants to start fresh with a new year but the brain has other ideas." Professor Bartlett said the modern world was a stressful environment in which the pressures of work, finances, relationships, parenting and other responsibilities result in the body releasing stress hormones like cortisol. Over time, stress hormones significantly reduce the number of synapses in the brain which can impact our rational brain and reduce impulse control. "To counteract the damage caused by stress hormones, the ancient, emotional part of our brain drives us to find pleasure. When we experience pleasure, our body is flooded with hormones like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. These bind to receptors in the brain and reduce the damaging effect of stress hormones," she said. Professor Bartlett's book outlines the following five steps to help people be led by their rational brain rather than the ancient brain and therefore resist impulses to break healthy goals: MiGGi Matters: How to train your brain to manage stress and trim your body is available for sale at AU$33 (plus tax and shipping) for a print version or AU$24.95 in ebook form at http://www. .

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