Research projects

Skin wounds that won’t heal: can stem cells help where antibiotics can’t?

Skin wounds that won’t heal are a big problem, particularly for older people, and have a big impact on quality of life. However, current treatments and antibiotics aren’t very effective, running the risk of long-term, chronic infection. Professor Phil Stephens and his team are investigating whether packets of bioactive compounds secreted by stem cells could create an anti-microbial environment that will help skin wounds to heal better.

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Grayscale close-up of a human eye

Using genetic data to understand the causes of age-related macular degeneration

When investigating diseases of ageing and their causes, it can be very difficult, time-consuming and expensive to conduct randomised controlled trials. Instead, Drs Reecha Sofat and Valerie Kuan are using a technique called Mendelian Randomisation to understand the underlying risk factors for the sight loss condition age-related macular degeneration, shedding light on new ideas for prevention and treatment.

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Instructor leading music session with three older participants

Can music therapy protect cognitive functions in older people?

Music therapy can enhance people’s lives, and stimulate their minds. Dr Fabia Franco and her team are assessing the impact of music therapy on older people’s cognition through a randomised controlled trial. An important factor in this will be the use of human-like robots in addition to the face-to-face sessions, to see whether this is a viable way to deliver the therapy.

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Anatomical model of the eye and optic nerve

Dropping the needle: developing a less invasive method to deliver drugs for age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is one of the biggest causes of sight loss in the UK – yet the only treatment available for the condition involves injections directly into the eye. Many patients are desperate for a less invasive treatment, especially one that doesn’t require hospital visits. Dr Felicity de Cogan and her team have discovered a way to carry drugs across the eye’s protective membranes, moving towards the development of eye drops to treat the disease.

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Aerial view of tree stump showing rings of old wood

Making the extra years count: understanding life expectancy in the context of years spent disability free

We know that people are living longer, but simply measuring life expectancy doesn’t tell us anything about the quality of life that older people are experiencing. In this research, Professor Carol Jagger and her team are using longitudinal data to assess how much of this increased life expectancy is spent with disability – and whether changes are seen across the population, or are affected by deprivation.

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Grayscale close-up of 3D-printed surface

Can 3D printing provide a better way to make dentures?

The techniques used to make dentures are labour-intensive, expensive, inaccurate and have remained largely unchanged for decades. Recent advances in technology now make it possible to create 3D printed dentures, so Dr Andrew Keeling is finding out if this is feasible, and whether the results are acceptable to wearers and as good or better than existing dentures.

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How does ageing change our cartilage?

We know that the spongy cartilage between bones changes during ageing and osteoarthritis, but it’s not clear how these processes are related. By comparing what’s happening in cartilage cells at a molecular level during ageing and osteoarthritis, Dr Simon Tew is gathering insights that will pave the way for future therapies.

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Five sets of stone 'towers' balanced on log

Do fall-prevention exercise programmes benefit older people in the long term?

Specially-designed exercise programmes have been shown to help prevent older people from falling. However, we do not know how well these exercises benefit people in the longer-term. In her PhD studentship, Dr Susanne Finnegan followed up with people after a trial of a fall-prevention exercise programme to find out if they were still exercising, and what motivated them to keep going.

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