43 research outputs found

    Using a VLE to enhance a Foundation Chemistry laboratory module

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    For the past few years, we have been experimenting with an e-learning approach to our introductory laboratory classes for first year students. Our overall objective was to maximise students’ useful time in the laboratory. We considered that time spent with students gathered around a desk watching a demonstration is not an efficient use of staff or students’ time.It is well recognised that students’ performance in the laboratory can be enhanced if they are familiar with the background of the experiments which will be conducted, hence the use of ‘pre-labs’. We have been delivering our ‘pre-labs’ electronically by requiring students to work through a package before coming to the laboratory. As well as covering the theory and background to the experiment, short video clips have been included so that students will also have seen the experiment being performed. They should at least recognise the apparatus! The package concludes with a short assessment quiz which must be completed.The packages were mounted on the University network using WebCT and meant that students could undertake the exercises at a time (and place) of their choosing rather than being confined to set laboratory hours.This communication will describe the packages and our experiences as well as an initial evaluation of our approach. Although largely anecdotal, staff felt that they spent less time on more mundane aspects of laboratory work and more time discussing chemistry.Students also felt that they were better prepared for the experiments before they came to the laboratory. Some of the pitfalls and technical problems that had to be overcome willalso be described

    The thermodynamics of solutions and binary liquid mixtures

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    The thesis is presented in two parts. In part one, the excess thermodynamic properties have been determined for several binary liquid mixtures, with the aim of testing theories of liquid mixtures. The excess molar enthalpies, Hem, have been determined using an LKB flow microcalorimeter, and the excess molar volumes, Vem, have been determined using an Anton Paar densitometer. The HemS and VemS have been measured at 298.15 K for binary systems involving an alkanol (methanol, ethanol, I-propanol, 2-propanol) mixed with a hydrocarbon (l-hexene, I-heptene, l-octene, I-hexyne, I-heptyne, l-octyne, toluene, mesitylene, 0-, m-, or p-xylene, cyclopentane, cyclohexane, cycloheptane, cyclooctane, cyclodecane). The results show trends relating to the degree of unsaturation, or size, of component molecules as well as the position of the hydroxyl group on the alkanol. Measurements were also made on mixtures involving an (n-alkane + a pseudo-n-alkane) and ( a cYcloalkane + a pseudo-cycloalkane). Two theories of liquid mixtures were tested in this work. The first theory tested was the theory of Congruency. This theory was tested, by means of a null test, on a novel set of mixtures involving an n-alkane (hexane, heptane, octane, decane, dodecane) + a pseudo-nalkane,and mixtures of a cycloalkane (cyclopentane, cyclohexane, cycloheptane, cyclooctane)+ a pseudo-cycloalkane. Deviations from the theory was less than the experimental error for the (n-alkane + pseudo-n-alkane) mixtures. However, significant deviations were observed for the mixtures of (a cycloalkane + a pseudo-cycloalkane). The second theory tested was the Flory theory, which has been used to predict the excess molar enthalpies and excess molar volumes for the mixtures involving (a 1-alkene, or 1-alkyne, or methyl-substituted benzene) + an alkanol. The results show that the theory does not hold for hydrocarbon mixtures involving an alkanol. In the second part of this thesis, the partial molar volumes, at infinite dilution, of binary solution involving a solid solute (18-crown-6 ether, dibenzo-18-crown-6 ether, dicyclohexanov 18-crown-6 ether, 15-crown-5 ether, or cryptand-222) are determined in various solvents. The results were repeated with a view to determine the volume changes at infinite dilution upon complexation, ΔV∞ of the crown ether or cryptand with a metal halide salt, MX (NaCl, NaI, KCl, KI, CsCl, CsI). The ΔV∞ results were compared with results in the literature for cryptand-222 (c-222) and dibenzo-18-crown-6 ether (B₂CE6) complexed with MX, and the study was extended to include further MX complexes with c-222 and B₂CE6, as well as MX complexes with 15-crown-5 ether and dicyclohexano-18-crown-6 ether. ΔV∞ results were correlated with the Hepler prediction of the electrostriction solvent effect

    Optimisation of a lozenge-based sensor for detecting impending blockage of urinary catheters

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    Catheter-associated urinary tract infections resulting from urease-positive microorganisms are more likely to cause a urinary catheter blockage owing to the urease activity of the microbes. Catheter blockage can be dangerous and increases the risk of severe infections, such as sepsis. Ureases, a virulence factor in Proteus mirabilis, cause an increase in urine pH - leading to blockage. An optimised biosensor "lozenge" is presented here, which is able to detect impending catheter blockage. This lozenge has been optimised to allow easy manufacture and commercialisation. It functions as a sensor in a physiologically representative model of a catheterised urinary tract, providing 6.7 h warning prior to catheter blockage. The lozenge is stable in healthy human urine and can be sterilized for clinical use by ethylene oxide. Clinically, the lozenge will provide a visible indication of impending catheter blockage, enabling quicker clinical intervention and thus reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with blockage.</p

    The Impact of Smoking on Clinical and Therapeutic Effects in Asthmatics

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    Smoking is associated with poor symptom control and impaired therapeutic responses in asthma. A total of 843 patients with asthma were recruited. The patients received treatment for 1 yr according to the severity of their asthma. We compared the forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1), the ratio of FEV1 to forced vital capaity (FVC), atopy, total IgE, emphysema on high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT), the number of near-fatal asthma attacks, and physiological fixed airway obstruction between the smoking and nonsmoking groups. The study population consisted of 159 (18.8%) current smokers, 157 (18.7%) ex-smokers, and 525 (62.5%) nonsmokers. Although the prevalence of atopy was not different between the smoking and nonsmoking groups, the total IgE was higher among the smokers than the nonsmokers. Compared with the nonsmoking group, the smokers had a lower FEV1 % predicted and forced expiratory flow between 25 and 75% of FVC. A greater prevalence of emphysema and a significantly higher number of asthmatic patients with fixed airway obstruction were detected in the smoking versus nonsmoking group. The 37.5% of asthmatic patients who were former or current smokers showed decreased pulmonary function and increased IgE, emphysema on HRCT, and fixed airway obstruction, indicating that smoking can modulate the clinical and therapeutic responses in asthma

    A BEAT-PCD consensus statement:a core outcome set for pulmonary disease interventions in primary ciliary dyskinesia

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    BACKGROUND: Consistent use of reliable and clinically appropriate outcome measures is a priority for clinical trials, with clear definitions to allow comparability. We aimed to develop a core outcome set (COS) for pulmonary disease interventions in primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD).METHODS: A multidisciplinary international PCD expert panel was set up. A list of outcomes was created based on published literature. Using a modified three-round e-Delphi technique, the panel was asked to decide on relevant end-points related to pulmonary disease interventions and how they should be reported. First, inclusion of an outcome in the COS was determined. Second, the minimum information that should be reported per outcome. The third round finalised statements. Consensus was defined as ≥80% agreement among experts.RESULTS: During the first round, experts reached consensus on four out of 24 outcomes to be included in the COS. Five additional outcomes were discussed in subsequent rounds for their use in different subsettings. Consensus on standardised methods of reporting for the COS was reached. Spirometry, health-related quality-of-life scores, microbiology and exacerbations were included in the final COS.CONCLUSION: This expert consensus resulted in a COS for clinical trials on pulmonary health among people with PCD.</p

    LoCKAmp: lab-on-PCB technology for <3 minute virus genetic detection

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    The recent COVID-19 outbreak highlighted the need for lab-on-chip diagnostic technology fit for real-life deployment in the field. Existing bottlenecks in multistep analytical microsystem integration and upscalable, standardized fabrication techniques delayed the large-scale deployment of lab-on-chip solutions during the outbreak, throughout a global diagnostic test shortage. This study presents a technology that has the potential to address these issues by redeploying and repurposing the ubiquitous printed circuit board (PCB) technology and manufacturing infrastructure. We demonstrate the first commercially manufactured, miniaturised lab-on-PCB device for loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) genetic detection of SARS-CoV-2. The system incorporates a mass-manufactured, continuous-flow PCB chip with ultra-low cost fluorescent detection circuitry, rendering it the only continuous-flow μLAMP platform with off-the-shelf optical detection components. Ultrafast, SARS-CoV-2 RNA amplification in wastewater samples was demonstrated within 2 min analysis, at concentrations as low as 17 gc μL−1. We further demonstrate our device operation by detecting SARS-CoV-2 in 20 human nasopharyngeal swab samples, without the need for any RNA extraction or purification. This renders the presented miniaturised nucleic-acid amplification-based diagnostic test the fastest reported SARS-CoV-2 genetic detection platform, in a practical implementation suitable for deployment in the field. This technology can be readily extended to the detection of alternative pathogens or genetic targets for a very broad range of applications and matrices. LoCKAmp lab-on-PCB chips are currently mass-manufactured in a commercial, ISO-compliant PCB factory, at a small-scale production cost of £2.50 per chip. Thus, with this work, we demonstrate a high technology-readiness-level lab-on-chip-based genetic detection system, successfully benchmarked against standard analytical techniques both for wastewater and nasopharyngeal swab SARS-CoV-2 detection

    Photopolymerization of polydiacetylene in hybrid liposomes:Effect of polymerization on stability and response to pathogenic bacterial toxins

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    Liposomes containing lipids and polydiacetylene (PDA) are hybrid systems encompassing both a fluid phospholipid membrane and a polymer scaffold (PDA). However, the biophysical role of PDA in such liposomes is not well understood. In this report, we studied the effects of photopolymerization of PDA on the stability of lipid-PDA liposomes, and their sensitivity to selected purified toxins and bacterial supernatants, using a fluorescence assay. Of the three different types of liposomes with variable lipid chain lengths that were chosen, the degree of polymerization had a significant impact on the long-term stability, and response, to external microbial exotoxins secreted by pathogenic bacteria, namely, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The degree of polymerization of TCDA played an important role in lipid-chain-length-dependent stabilization of lipid-PDA liposomes, as well as in their response to bacterial toxins of S. aureus and P. aeruginosa.</p

    Retrospective evaluation of whole exome and genome mutation calls in 746 cancer samples

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    Funder: NCI U24CA211006Abstract: The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) curated consensus somatic mutation calls using whole exome sequencing (WES) and whole genome sequencing (WGS), respectively. Here, as part of the ICGC/TCGA Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium, which aggregated whole genome sequencing data from 2,658 cancers across 38 tumour types, we compare WES and WGS side-by-side from 746 TCGA samples, finding that ~80% of mutations overlap in covered exonic regions. We estimate that low variant allele fraction (VAF < 15%) and clonal heterogeneity contribute up to 68% of private WGS mutations and 71% of private WES mutations. We observe that ~30% of private WGS mutations trace to mutations identified by a single variant caller in WES consensus efforts. WGS captures both ~50% more variation in exonic regions and un-observed mutations in loci with variable GC-content. Together, our analysis highlights technological divergences between two reproducible somatic variant detection efforts