health

Preventable liver disease costs more than diabetes

Sydney team hopes to reduce the burden with research-led intervention

27 March 2013

Liver diseases have an impact on the Australian economy 40 per cent greater than chronic kidney disease and Type 2 diabetes combined, according to a report released today.

The report estimates the annual burden of liver diseases in Australia at more than $50 billion. And yet almost all liver disease is preventable.

The Centenary Institute’s liver research unit is one of the biggest in Australia. It is also one of first in the world to try to come to grips with liver damage at its most fundamental molecular level.

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Stories from the 2012 AIP Congress

New ideas on our energy future; hand-held cancer probes; ultra-powerful, high speed quantum computers;  and freeing up space on the mobile network.

These stories and more were presented at the national physics and optics conference, AIP/ACOFT 2012, at the University of New South Wales, Kensington.

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Sustainable fuels throw up health concerns

Compounds that affect respiratory health have been found in biodiesel exhausts. This might lead to restrictions on the use of this form of biofuel as an alternative to fossil fuel, according to researchers from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

“With fossil fuel reserves dwindling, developing renewable alternative fuels is important,” postdoctoral fellow Dr Nicholas Surawski says, “but we should be particularly careful to protect against unwanted respiratory illness when we adopt new transport fuels.” The team is now looking at ways of cleaning up biofuel exhausts.

Nicolas is one of the 2012 Fresh Scientists, presenting his work for the first time to the public.

The team looked at a range of biodiesels made from soy, tallow and canola.

Using specialised analytical monitoring equipment developed at the University, they discovered that burning diesel fuels with a high percentage of biodiesel (up to 80%) produced higher emissions of compounds linked to respiratory disease. These biologically active compounds are called reactive oxygen species and form on surface of small soot particles in the exhaust emissions. Reactive oxygen species can lead to the cell damage called oxidative stress which, over long periods of time, can progress to serious respiratory disease.

“This is a very important discovery,” Nicholas says. “Now we’ve identified a component of the emissions that causes the problem we can start to look for solutions.

The research team, led by Professor Zoran Ristovski, is now focusing on understanding the way the reactive oxygen species in the emissions are generated, and on how to remove them.

This work is aimed at providing the transport industry with fuels that not only have a favourable environmental impact, but also that place a lesser burden on respiratory health.

Images and video footage to support the story are available on request from the research team.

The research was published in Environmental Science and Technology.

For interviews:

Nicholas Surawski describing his research in the time it takes a sparkler to burn. Credit: Thami Croeser

 

Do krill have sex? Trace elements reveal Parkinson's. Could science save your chocolate soufflé and more

These are some of the stories from scientists participating in the he Ultimo Science Festival which kicks off in Sydney next Thursday, 16 August. It’s 11 days of serious science fun, with 50 events running day and night around the Powerhouse Museum, the ABC Ultimo Centre, Ultimo TAFE and the University of Technology, Sydney. [continue reading…]

Do krill have sex? Trace elements reveal Parkinson’s. Could science save your chocolate soufflé and more

These are some of the stories from scientists participating in the he Ultimo Science Festival which kicks off in Sydney next Thursday, 16 August. It’s 11 days of serious science fun, with 50 events running day and night around the Powerhouse Museum, the ABC Ultimo Centre, Ultimo TAFE and the University of Technology, Sydney. [continue reading…]