PHARMACY AND EXPERIMENTAL PHARMACOLOGY
Brendan Plunkett, Rachel Wong
Cintia Dias, Faizan Jameel, Rohith Thota, Fatimah Alshamsan, Jessica Ferguson, Kylie Abbott
The research focuses on investigations of the foods, nutrients and dietary supplements (essential fatty acids, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds) in human health and disease with a particular emphasis on elucidation of mechanisms involved.
The group’s research specialise in running clinical intervention trials, in normal free living healthy human subjects as well as those with hyperlipidaemia, diabetes, obesity and athletes to investigate mechanisms by which diet manipulations modulate health determinants including blood lipid levels, glycaemic control, oxidative stress, platelet aggregation and inflammation mediators including cytokines.
The research activities span from conducting clinical and behavioural trials, through community and population-based research to basic metabolism and physiology.
In 2015, the group published 14 full-length manuscripts; 13 national and 3 international conference abstracts.
The Nutrition Research Clinic, together with the Nutraceuticals Research Group, is the Newcastle component of the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre, a multidisciplinary research collaboration with the University of South Australia and Swinburne University of Technology.
It conducts human intervention trials (to ICH-GCP standards) to evaluate cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory, metabolic and cognitive benefits of bioactive nutrients in partnership with food and supplement industries.
The group are currently examining the potential for vasoactive nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and resveratrol to improve circulatory function in the brain of individuals who are at heightened risk of microvascular disease (e.g. hypertensives, diabetics), with the aim of restoring/maintaining optimal brain function and counteracting cognitive decline and mood disorders.
At the same time, the group are evaluating effects of chronic supplementation on cardiometabolic biomarkers and preventive health outcomes.
Lan Gao, Hao Hu, Tang Lau, Luan Luan, Nurul Ain Mohd Tahir, Cheng Leng Chan
Before taking up his current position, Professor Li worked as an academic at the National University of Singapore and as Acting Director and Deputy Director, Pharmaceutical Evaluation Section (PES) of Pharmaceutical Benefits Branch, Commonwealth Department of Health & Ageing in Canberra.
During this period in Singapore, besides his academic appointment, he has been instrumental in developing the Pharmacoeconomics and Drug Utilisation Unit at the Centre for Drug Administration, Health Sciences Authority and in organising several of the first ever pharmaceoconomics and outcomes conferences in the region.
In his capacity as Acting Director and Deputy Director of PES in Australia, he was among the few pioneers that put the principles of pharmacoeconomic evaluation into practice for regulatory affairs, and has been involved in the implementation of the first version of the Australian Pharmacoeconomics Guidelines and the development of the second version of the same Guidelines.
Professor Li has been very active in the area of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research as well as pharmacy practice. Recently, his research interest has been concentrated more on the areas of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research, as well as drug policy.
Tu-Son Nguyen, Yazmin Crossingham, Jia Ming Lee
The general research focus of this laboratory is on therapeutic targeting utilising novel drug delivery platforms in biomedical applications.
Of particular interest is using nanotechnology to study novel mechanistic pathways, as well as to develop more efficient therapeutic delivery systems.
For example, a number of the group’s key projects are focused on translational pain research in the areas of peripheral analgesia and inflammation.
Dr Hua has established important animal models of acute and chronic pain at The University of Newcastle, including the AIA rodent model of chronic arthritis and the CFA rodent model of acute inflammatory pain.
Dr Hua’s research expertise covers the areas of advanced pharmaceutical formulation, in vitro cellular studies and preclinical in vivo animal studies.
This expertise provides a solid foundation to formulate and evaluate new drug delivery systems and to apply them to pathological disease states, in order to assess potential clinical applicability and identify novel therapeutic targets.
This research provides a platform for the translational development of targeted therapeutics that will ultimately provide a novel therapeutic strategy in clinical disease management.
Vahid Heravi Shargh
The research of this group is at the interface of multidisciplinary fields including chemical & molecular engineering, materials science, chemistry, biotechnology and medicine.
The group seeks to develop novel biomaterials and strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.
One of their specific interests lies in the mechanistic understanding of nanoparticle interaction with biological systems, with special focus on improving cell-specific uptake of therapeutic nanoparticles and understanding sub-cellular dynamics associated with nanoparticle trafficking.
In 2015, the group mainly worked to develop hybrid albumin and polymeric nanoparticles for targeted cancer therapy.
The group also developed research into subcellular mitochondrial targeting, which has great potentials in tackling many mitochondria-associated diseases including cancer, diabetes, aging, neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases etc.
The research focuses on inappropriate prescribing in the elderly in general and more specifically looks at two areas.
The first area looks at the summative effects of anticholinergic drugs such as atropine and amitriptyline on cognitive function in the elderly. The effects of sedatives and opiates on cognition is also of interest.
The group are investigating the effects of changes in anticholinergic load on cognition over time, as well as on other clinical outcomes such as depression and physical quality of life.
This area is especially relevant given the increasing aging population, incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease and polypharmacy.
The group have found that the summative adverse effects of lower level anticholinergic drugs is having a significant impact on patient health.
The second area looks at the co-prescription of drugs that are either inhibitors or inducers of the cytochrome P450 metabolic enzymes with other drugs that are substrates for these enzymes.
This situation may result in drugs being prescribed at doses that will either not be therapeutically effective or will result in high blood concentrations of a particular drug with potentially fatal or severe adverse effects.
As CYP drug-drug interactions are more common in patients on higher numbers of medications, particular vigilance is required at the time of prescribing and dispensing medications for elderly patients with multiple conditions.
Current laboratory research involves development of HPLC assays for measurement of drugs (and metabolites) in biological fluids, with particular emphasis on drugs used in oncology.
This work forms a basis for pharmacokinetic modelling work and is in collaboration with Professor Jennifer Martin and Dr Peter Galettis from the Department of Clinical Pharmacology, School of Public Health and Medicine.
The laboratory is also conducting pharmaceutical research projects on the stability and compatibility of drugs and drug admixtures.
Another area of clinical research is evaluation of symptom assessment tools in the palliative care setting.