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News Article | April 27, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

School bullies and their victims are more likely to want plastic surgery than other teens -- new University of Warwick research School bullies and their victims are more likely to want cosmetic surgery, according to new research by the University of Warwick. Professor Dieter Wolke -- and colleagues in the Department of Psychology and Warwick Medical School -- have discovered that teenagers who are affected by bullying in any way have a greater desire than others to change their bodies by going under the knife. Almost 2800 adolescents -- aged 11 to 16 -- in UK secondary schools were screened for their involvement in bullying, through self and peer assessment. A sample group of around 800 adolescents -- including bullies, victims, those who both bully and are bullied, and those who are unaffected by bullying - was analysed for emotional problems, levels of self-esteem and body-esteem, and the extent of their desire to have plastic surgery. They were asked to complete established questionnaires -- such as the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and the Acceptance of Cosmetic Surgery Scale. The results showed that adolescents involved in bullying in any role were more interested in cosmetic surgery, compared to those uninvolved in bullying. Desire for cosmetic surgery was highest in victims of bullying, but was also increased in bullying perpetrators. 11.5% of bullying victims have an extreme desire to have cosmetic surgery, as well as 3.4% of bullies, and 8.8% of teenagers who both bully and are bullied - this is compared with less than 1% of those who are unaffected by bullying. Girls want to go under the knife more than boys. Of the sample group, 7.3% of girls had an extreme wish to have plastic surgery, compared with 2% of boys. The researchers state that perpetrators of bullying want to have plastic surgery to improve their appearance and increase their social status. . Victims of bullying, on the other hand, want to go under the knife because their psychological functioning is affected by being picked on - giving them lower self-esteem, more emotional problems and a desire to change their appearance. Between 2014 and 2015, 15.9 million surgical and minimally invasive procedures were performed in the United States. Almost 230,000 of those procedures were performed on 13-19 year olds. Rates of cosmetic surgery are similarly increasing in the United Kingdom and across the world. Young people could have less of a desire for plastic surgery if mental health issues arising from bullying are addressed, according to the authors. The researchers suggest that cosmetic surgeons screen potential patients for a history of bullying, and any related psychological issues. Professor Wolke and his co-authors comment: "Being victimized by peers resulted in poor psychological functioning, which increased desire for cosmetic surgery. For bullies, cosmetic surgery may simply be another tactic to increase social status [...] to look good and achieve dominance. "The desire for cosmetic surgery in bullied adolescents is immediate and long-lasting. "Our results suggest that cosmetic surgeons should screen candidates for psychological vulnerability and history of bullying." The research, 'Adolescent Desire for Cosmetic Surgery: Associations with Bullying and Psychological Functioning', is published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. It is co-authored by Kirsty Lee, Ph.D., Alexa Guy, M.Res., Jeremy Dale, Ph.D., M.B.B.S., F.R.C.G.P.


News Article | March 2, 2017
Site: www.futurity.org

We may need to walk seven miles a day and spend seven hours on our feet to avoid heart disease, a study with postal workers suggests. Of the 111 participants in the study, those who had desk jobs, not walking delivery routes, had a bigger waist circumference—97 cm compared to 94 cm—and approximately one BMI unit difference. They also had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease—2.2 percent compared to 1.6 percent over ten years. The new study suggests that waist circumference increases by two centimeters, and risk of cardiovascular diseases by 0.2 percent, for every additional hour of sitting beyond five hours. Furthermore, LDL cholesterol increases and HDL cholesterol decreases with each of those additional hours. “Longer time spent in sedentary posture is significantly associated with larger waist circumference, higher triglycerides (fat in the blood), and lower HDL cholesterol, all adding up to worse risk of heart disease,” says study leader William Tigbe of the University of Warwick’s Warwick Medical School. “The levels associated with zero risk factors were walking more than 15,000 steps per day, which is equivalent to walking seven to eight miles, or spending seven hours per day upright. “Our findings could be used as the basis of new public health targets for sitting, lying, standing, and stepping to avoid metabolic risks. However the levels suggested in our research would be very challenging to achieve unless incorporated into people’s occupations.” The study participants wore a tiny physical activity and position monitor called activPAL, invented by coauthors from Glasgow Caledonian University, strapped to their thigh for seven days, except during activities that risked it being in contact with water, e.g. bathing or swimming. They also had their weight, height, and blood pressure measured, and provided blood samples. Cardiovascular risks were assessed using the PROCAM risk calculator, which takes into account age, sex, family history, blood pressure, and metabolic measures. The study took place between September 2006 and September 2007 and volunteers were recruited from the Royal Mail in Glasgow. Only apparently healthy, non-smokers, with no personal history of heart attack, stroke, coronary heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes were included. None of the participants was on any lipid, blood pressure, or glucose lowering medication. “Our evolution, to become the human species, did not equip us well to spending all day sitting down. We probably adapted to be healthiest spending seven to eight hours every day on our feet, as hunters or gatherers,” says Mike Lean of the University of Glasgow’s School of Medicine. “Our new research supports that idea. The ‘bottom’ line is that if you want to be sure of having no risks of heart disease, you must keep off your bottom!” The study, part of Tigbe’s PhD project, appears in the International Journal of Obesity.


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A new study shows further evidence for the view that spending too much time sitting down is bad for our health and our waistline. Research led by Dr William Tigbe, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick found workers who have a desk-bound job have bigger waists and increased risk of heart disease. It supports advice to sit less and be more active; as much as seven hours a day on your feet, and walking seven miles, may be needed to avoid heart disease. Dr Tigbe kitted out 111 healthy Glaswegian postal workers with activity monitors for seven days; 55 were office workers and 56 delivered post for a living. The study revealed differences between the two groups. Those who had desk jobs had a bigger waist circumference -- 97 cm compared to 94 cm -- and approximately one BMI unit difference. They also had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease -- 2.2% compared to 1.6% over ten years. The new study suggests that waist circumference increases by two centimetres, and risk of cardiovascular diseases by 0.2%, for every additional hour of sitting on top of five hours. Furthermore, bad cholesterol (LDL) increases and good cholesterol (HDL) decreases with each additional hour of sitting from five hours a day. Dr Tigbe said: "Longer time spent in sedentary posture is significantly associated with larger waist circumference, higher triglycerides (fat in the blood) and lower HDL cholesterol, all adding up to worse risk of heart disease. The levels associated with zero risk factors were walking more than 15,000 steps per day, which is equivalent to walking seven to eight miles, or spending seven hours per day upright. "Our findings could be used as the basis of new public health targets for sitting, lying, standing and stepping to avoid metabolic risks. "However the levels suggested in our research would be very challenging to achieve unless incorporated into people's occupations." The study participants wore a tiny physical activity and position monitor called activPAL, invented by co-authors from Glasgow Caledonian University, strapped to their thigh for seven days, except during activities that risk it being in contact with water, e.g. bathing or swimming. They also had their weight, height and blood pressure measured, and provided blood samples. Cardiovascular risks were assessed using the PROCAM risk calculator which takes into account age, sex, family history, blood pressure and metabolic measures. The study took place between took place between September 2006 and September 2007 and volunteers were recruited from the Royal Mail in Glasgow. Only apparently healthy, non-smokers, with no personal history of myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke, coronary heart disease, hypertension or diabetes were included. None of the participants was on any lipid, blood pressure or glucose lowering medication. Fellow researcher Professor Mike Lean of the University of Glasgow's School of Medicine said: "In this research we have learned important information, relevant to health in modern working lives, by studying the activity patterns of postal workers, one of the last physically active occupations left in UK." "Our evolution, to become the human species, did not equip us well to spending all day sitting down. We probably adapted to be healthiest spending seven to eight hours every day on our feet, as hunters or gatherers. " "Our new research supports that idea. The 'bottom' line is that if you want to be sure of having no risks of heart disease, you must keep off your bottom!" The researchers urge further study of this topic is conducted in order to inform health policy makers. Time spent in sedentary posture is associated with waist circumference and cardiovascular risk is recently been published in the International Journal of Obesity. The research was part of Dr Tigbe's PhD project. Time spent in sedentary posture is associated with waist circumference and cardiovascular risk has been published in the International Journal of Obesity This research was funded by Glasgow Caledonian University as part of Dr Tigbe's PhD project. Professor Malcolm Granat is a director of PAL Technologies Ltd, (this research is not intended to promote the activPAL monitor or the company). Professor Naveed Sattar?s research is supported by the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK. Professor Mike Lean?s research is supported by Diabetes UK and by Counterweight Ltd.


News Article | October 28, 2016
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Patients could soon be diagnosed with early-stage arthritis several years before the onset of physical and irreversible symptoms, thanks to a new test developed by researchers at the University of Warwick. Led by Naila Rabbani of Warwick Medical School, the researchers developed a test that can provide an early diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA) and also distinguish this from early-stage rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other self-resolving inflammatory joint disease. The test, which could be available to patients within two years, identifies the chemical signatures found in the plasma of blood joint proteins damaged by oxidation, nitration and glycation; the modification of proteins with oxygen, nitrogen and sugar molecules. The researchers say that by diagnosing which type of arthritis a patient will develop at an early-stage will allow for appropriate treatment that will provide the best chance for effective treatment and potential prevention. Patients with early-stage and advanced OA, RA or other inflammatory joint disease were recruited for the study alongside a control group of those with good skeletal health, with plasma and synovial fluid samples from both groups being analyzed using mass spectrometry. Through their analysis the researchers detected damaged proteins in characteristic patterns in the samples of those patients with early and advanced OA and RA, but were found at markedly lower levels in the samples of those in the control group – providing the researchers with the identifiable biomarkers necessary for early detection and diagnosis. “Damage to proteins in the arthritic joint have been known for many years but this is the first time it has been exploited for early-stage diagnosis," said Rabbani. “For the first time we measured small fragments from damaged proteins that leak from the joint into blood. The combination of changes in oxidized, nitrated and sugar-modified amino acids in blood enabled early stage detection and classification of arthritis – osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or other self-resolving inflammatory joint disease. “This is a big step forward for early-stage detection of arthritis that will help start treatment early and prevent painful and debilitating disease.” The research, "Protein oxidation, nitration and glycation biomarkers for early-stage diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the knee and typing and progression of arthritic disease," is published by Arthritis Research and Therapy.


News Article | October 31, 2016
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Patients could soon be diagnosed with early-stage arthritis several years before the onset of physical and irreversible symptoms, thanks to a new test developed by researchers at the University of Warwick. Led by Dr Naila Rabbani of Warwick Medical School, the researchers developed a test that can provide an early diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA) and also distinguish this from early-stage rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other self-resolving inflammatory joint disease. The test, which could be available to patients within two years, identifies the chemical signatures found in the plasma of blood joint proteins damaged by oxidation, nitration and glycation; the modification of proteins with oxygen, nitrogen and sugar molecules. The researchers say that by diagnosing which type of arthritis a patient will develop at an early-stage will allow for appropriate treatment that will provide the best chance for effective treatment and potential prevention. Patients with early-stage and advanced OA, RA or other inflammatory joint disease were recruited for the study alongside a control group of those with good skeletal health, with plasma and synovial fluid samples from both groups being analysed using mass spectrometry. Through their analysis the researchers detected damaged proteins in characteristic patterns in the samples of those patients with early and advanced OA and RA, but were found at markedly lower levels in the samples of those in the control group -- providing the researchers with the identifiable biomarkers necessary for early detection and diagnosis. Commenting on the discovery Dr Rabbani said, "Damage to proteins in the arthritic joint have been known for many years but this is the first time it has been exploited for early-stage diagnosis "For the first time we measured small fragments from damaged proteins that leak from the joint into blood. The combination of changes in oxidised, nitrated and sugar-modified amino acids in blood enabled early stage detection and classification of arthritis -- osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or other self-resolving inflammatory joint disease. "This is a big step forward for early-stage detection of arthritis that will help start treatment early and prevent painful and debilitating disease." The research, "Protein oxidation, nitration and glycation biomarkers for early-stage diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the knee and typing and progression of arthritic disease," is published by Arthritis Research and Therapy.


News Article | November 7, 2016
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

B12 deficiency during pregnancy may predispose children to metabolic problems such as type-2 diabetes, according to research presented at the Society for Endocrinology's annual Conference in Brighton. These findings could lead to a review of current vitamin B12 requirements for pregnant women, whether through an improved diet or supplements. Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs and milk, meaning deficiency is more likely in those following a vegan diet. Previous studies show that mothers with low B12 levels had a higher BMI and were more likely to give birth to babies with low birth weight as well as high cholesterol levels. These children also had higher insulin resistance in childhood -- a risk factor for type-2 diabetes. In this study, a team of researchers at the University of Warwick's Warwick Medical School hypothesised that the changes associated with B12 deficiency may be the result of abnormal levels of leptin -- the hormone that tells us we are full after eating. Leptin is produced by our body's fat cells and its levels rise in response to eating food. Whilst lean diets are associated with normal levels of leptin, obesity causes levels to rise and remain consistently higher than normal. This can eventually lead to leptin resistance, continued overeating, and an increased risk of insulin resistance, which leads to type-2 diabetes. Scientists and doctors therefore see leptin as providing an effective 'marker' for body fat. The researchers found that babies born to mothers with B12 deficiency had higher than normal leptin levels. This suggests that maternal B12 deficiency can adversely program the leptin gene, changing the levels at which the hormone is produced whilst the fetus grows. "The nutritional environment provided by the mother can permanently program the baby's health," said Dr Ponusammy Saravanan, senior author of the study. "We know that children born to under or over nourished mothers are at an increased risk of health problems such as type-2 diabetes, and we also see that maternal B12 deficiency may affect fat metabolism and contribute to this risk. This is why we decided to investigate leptin, the fat cell hormone." The next steps in the study will be to determine the details of how and why the leptin increase is seen in babies born to mothers with low B12. "The leptin can increase for two reasons," said Dr Adaikala Antonysunil, who also worked on the study. "Either low B12 drives fat accumulation in the fetus, and this leads to increased leptin, or the low B12 actually causes chemical changes in the placental genes that produce leptin, making more of the hormone. As B12 is involved in methylation reactions in the body which can affect whether genes are turned on and off, we suspect it may be the latter." The research was presented as a conference abstract showing only preliminary results, and has not been peer reviewed.


News Article | November 16, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Researchers from the University of Warwick's Medical School are leading a novel study to explore ways of helping people with chronic pain back to work. Working with employers they will design a package of care and support for people who are out of work because of chronic pain. They aim to overcome the obstacles to getting back to work faced by both chronic pain patients and employers. The team from Warwick Medical School will be working with Serco, Coventry City Council, and University Hospitals Birmingham, as well as with other researchers from Royal Holloway University of London, and an expert advisor to the Department of Work and Pensions. Leading the research team is Senior Research Fellow at Warwick Medical School, Dr Robert Froud. He said: "Chronic pain affects between 8% and 60% of the population, depending on the definition used. It costs the UK economy billions each year and can have an enormous impact on individuals financially, socially, and physically. However working is known to improve health outcomes, reduce poverty, and improve quality of life and well-being." The study will be using a type of support package, known as Individual Placement Support (IPS), as the basis of their research. The IPS has previously been used with people unemployed with mental health problems with some success. The Warwick team will adapt this type of package of care so that it can be also used for people with chronic pain. Serco, Coventry City Council and University Hospital Birmingham will be providing a total of 30 work placements for the people in the study. Existing NHS and expert support will be provided to both the employees and the employers. If the scheme is successful there will be potential for national roll-out in the future, which could help millions of people in their battle against pain. Evidence suggests that without intervention the probability of return-to-work in the foreseeable future drops from 50% after six months off-work, to 10% after 12 months, and to zero at 24 months. Chronic pain is seldom confined to one part of the body which this may present unique challenges to patients. People who are unemployed due to chronic pain face slightly different obstacles to returning to work than those with mental health problems in the absence of chronic pain. For example, people with chronic musculoskeletal pain may need specific adjustments to allow them to perform their role (e.g. adapting a work station, or modifying access). Study participants will be assessed and interventional support will be provided not only to the person in pain, but also to their manager. It is anticipated that work placements will increase participants' confidence in both their ability to work and returning to work. The feasibility study will commence in July 2017. Much of the chronic pain in the study will be caused by arthritis and arthritis-related conditions therefore the study is funded by Arthritis Research UK. Dr Natalie Carter, Head of Research Liaison and Evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, said: "Millions of people live with the chronic pain of back pain and other types of arthritis, and they tell us that they desperately want to return to work. "This study will not only help us to determine what support is needed to help those people return to work but will also have a knock on effect for the UK economy, as arthritis-related conditions account for the second biggest reason for work place absence. "As a charity, we are not only focused on finding future treatments but also helping those living in pain now. That's why we are determined to help those living with arthritis push back the limits of their condition so they can continue, or return to, doing the things that they love whatever that may be." Gareth Moss, Serco's Director for Employment, Skills and Enterprise, said: "Our employment business focuses on supporting and empowering people to secure sustainable work and progress in their careers, and to do this effectively we take into account any health concerns. We are therefore delighted to be working with the University of Warwick on exploring new ways to help transform people's lives."


News Article | November 30, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

National guidance for professionals handling cases of sudden unexpected child death which draws upon University of Warwick expertise are published today (30 November 2016). The guidelines, Sudden unexpected death in infancy and childhood, have been published by The Royal College of Pathologists (RCPath) and The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and draws on research by Dr Peter Sidebotham and Dr Joanna Garstang from the University's Warwick Medical School. The guidelines aim to be sensitive to the needs of grief-stricken parents while also enabling an explanation to be found and make recommendations to each profession and outline best practice for each part of the investigation process. Dr Peter Sidebotham, Associate Professor of Child Health, at Warwick Medical School said: "In my work with bereaved families, I have come across terrible situations where parents have been kept in the dark or made to feel like criminals. I have also experienced some great examples of how families have been supported through the days and weeks following their child's death and how police and health professionals have worked together in a sensitive, thorough, and caring manner. Parents often tell me that what they want, above anything else, is to understand why their baby died, but also their hopes that by investigating their child's death thoroughly, we can work to prevent other families having to go through a similar experience." The new guidance aims to help to help agencies work together to share information and keep families included at every stage. The original guidelines published in 2004 followed high profile cases of miscarriages of justice involving the prosecution of mothers for causing the deaths of their babies. These events raised serious concerns about the role of the expert witness in court, issues about standards of proof, the quality of evidence and about the procedures adopted for the investigation of sudden unexpected deaths of infants. This 2016 edition of the guidelines have been extensively reviewed and updated by an expert working group from the healthcare, charity and justice sectors and cover multi-agency planning, supporting families, assessment of the environment and circumstances of the death, case discussion, the post-mortem and the inquest and role of the coroner. They are based on the best current international research. "We can never take away the tragedy of losing a baby suddenly and unexpectedly but we can ensure that families get the support they need during this terrible time in their lives. Every death must be properly investigated and parents are the first to ask why their baby died. Many professionals from different agencies become involved when an apparently healthy baby dies. It is therefore crucial that we have sensitive guidelines in place setting out how we can all work together while at the same time caring for the bereaved family." Baroness Helena Kennedy QC and Chair of the Working Group said: "It is important to remember that, in the majority of cases where a child dies unexpectedly and suddenly, nothing untoward has taken place. It is only in a small number of cases where something unlawful has occurred. Professionals investigating the sudden and unexpected death of a child have to strike a balance between maintaining justice for parents while ensuring the protection of the youngest amongst us who have no voice. This report takes a fresh look at how agencies can investigate unexpected deaths in infants with thoroughness, care, compassion and to the highest possible standards." The working group also recognises that further work is needed in the area of investigating sudden death in infancy and childhood and hope that this document will stimulate discussion and further research. For further details please contact Nicola Jones, Media Relations Manager, University of Warwick 07920531221 or N.Jones.1@warwick.ac.uk The report will be launched in Committee Room G, House of Lords Westminster, London SW1A 0PW on Wednesday 30 Nov: For more information about the launch please contact - The Royal College of Pathologists Tel 020 7451 6752. M. 0757 834 9018. E samantha.jayaram@rcpath.org "Understanding why a child has died is crucial for identifying the cause of death and determining whether it could have been prevented. Families want to know what happened, and why it occurred, both to help deal with the trauma of such a devastating loss but also to help alleviate anxieties about future pregnancies or other children. Unfortunately, in many cases, the death remains unexplained despite investigation. We need to continue research into understanding why and how apparently healthy children die suddenly and unexpectedly." Dr Geoff DeBelle, Officer for Child Protection, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health: "Every child's death is a tragedy. Many of these deaths are from natural causes such as extreme premature birth and its complications, congenital anomalies, infection and malignancy. Others relate to road traffic injuries. Only around 1% of such deaths can be directly attributed to abuse and neglect. It is incumbent on dedicated professionals to investigate all deaths in childhood to assist the coroner, to determine whether there is potential to prevent further deaths and to ensure that the parents and surviving siblings have appropriate explanation, advice and bereavement counselling. The new edition of the guidelines provide the most up-to-date and evidence-based guidance for the multi-professional investigation of all deaths in childhood. It will ensure that such investigations are undertaken in a uniform, thorough and sensitive manner across the UK." Sudden unexpected death in infancy and childhood (2nd edition) - Multi-agency guidelines for care and investigation encompasses the statutory duties of individual professionals and agencies to investigate all sudden and unexpected deaths in infancy and childhood according to Working Together to Safeguard Children: A Guide to Inter-agency Working to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children (Department for Education, 2015) and best evidence. Such guidance is based around regulatory structures in England, but it is intended that the principles of the guidelines can also be applied in areas in which other systems are in place. The Royal College of Pathologists is a professional membership organisation committed to setting and maintaining professional standards and to promoting excellence in the practice of pathology. As well as medically qualified members, the College has scientists amongst its membership and represents 19 pathology specialties. It has over 10,500 members who are senior staff in hospital laboratories, universities and industry worldwide. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH): contributes to setting and maintaining standards for the education and training of doctors working in paediatrics and child health in the UK and internationally. The RCPCH influences and shapes health policy and health services for infants, children and young people in the UK, advocates on their behalf, and strengthens the science and research base of paediatrics and child health. To date, the RCPCH has over 17,000 members and fellows. The Lullaby Trust provides specialist support for bereaved families, promotes expert advice on safer baby sleep and raises awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Working with the NHS we run a national health-visitor led service for bereaved parents, Care of Next Infant (CONI) programme, which supports families before and after the birth of their new baby. We are committed to supporting research to understand why babies die suddenly and unexpectedly and to find out more about how to reduce the risk of these tragic deaths. The Lullaby Trust also runs an information line for parents and professionals (0808 802 6869) and a dedicated line for bereaved families (0808 802 6868). Both are free to call from landlines and mobiles. In 2008, local Child Death Overview Panels (CDOPs) were statutorily established in England, with the responsibility of reviewing the deaths of all children under 18, their main function is to prevent future child deaths. Currently there are 92 such panels and during 2015 the panels reviewed 3665 child deaths. One in five deaths is avoidable and other modifiable factors are present in one third of the cases; multiple risk factors were present in 60% of children where the death was sudden and unexpected and occurred and/or was associated with abuse or neglect


Cross R.A.,Warwick Medical School | McAinsh A.,Warwick Medical School
Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology | Year: 2014

Mitotic spindles are self-organizing protein machines that harness teams of multiple force generators to drive chromosome segregation. Kinesins are key members of these force-generating teams. Different kinesins walk directionally along dynamic microtubules, anchor, crosslink, align and sort microtubules into polarized bundles, and influence microtubule dynamics by interacting with microtubule tips. The mechanochemical mechanisms of these kinesins are specialized to enable each type to make a specific contribution to spindle self-organization and chromosome segregation. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


News Article | October 28, 2016
Site: www.medicalnewstoday.com

The researchers, led by Dr. Naila Rabbani of Warwick Medical School, report how they developed the new blood test in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy. The test could be available within 2 years, say the researchers. The earlier that arthritis is diagnosed - before physical and irreversible symptoms set in - the better the chances that treatment can focus on how to prevent the problem, for instance with lifestyle changes. The new blood test looks for chemical signatures in fragments of joint proteins (amino acids) that have been damaged, as Dr. Rabbani explains: "The combination of changes in oxidized, nitrated and sugar-modified amino acids in blood enabled early stage detection and classification of arthritis - osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or other self-resolving inflammatory joint disease." Dr. Rabbani notes that scientists have known for a while that proteins in the arthritic joint get damaged, but this is the first time they have looked at them from the point of view of early disease diagnosis. "For the first time we measured small fragments from damaged proteins that leak from the joint into blood," she adds. For the study, the team recruited 225 participants. These included patients with knee joint early-stage and advanced osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory joint disease, and healthy volunteers with no joint problems. Using mass spectrometry, the researchers analyzed samples of blood and synovial fluid (from the affected knee joints) for oxidized, nitrated, and sugar-modified proteins and amino acids. They found some patterns of damaged amino acids in samples from patients with early and advanced osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis that were markedly lower in samples from the healthy volunteers. Using sophisticated bioinformatic computer methods, they developed algorithms - based on 10 damaged amino acids - that can diagnose early-stage osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and non-rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers note the new blood test has a "relatively high sensitivity and specificity for early-stage diagnosis and typing of arthritic disease." Sensitivity is the extent to which a negative result is able to rule the disease out, and specificity is the extent to which a positive result can rule the disease in. In the case of early-stage osteoarthritis, the study found the blood test had a sensitivity of 92 percent and a specificity of 90 percent. These compare favorably with current techniques. For instance, in their background information, the researchers note that current magnetic resonance imaging techniques for evaluating cartilage damage in early-stage osteoarthritis have sensitivities around 70 percent and specificities around 90 percent. Also, compared with a blood test, such techniques are expensive and time-consuming, and cannot be used with some patients - for instance, those fitted with pacemakers. Learn how nose cells could help repair damaged knee cartilage.

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