Young Health Scientists Wow the Crowd with Novel Research
Upcoming researchers wowed the audience with their novel research in topical health themes during the recent College of Health Sciences Young Health Scientist’s Research Symposium at UKZN.
First prize winners included Ms Y Pillay in the laboratory-based category, Mr Y Naicker and Mr A Sookraj in the clinical-based category and Ms F Akhbar and associates in the community-based category.
Pillay, an honours student in Medical Biochemistry, presented on: “Effects of Two Novel Chemically Synthesised Carbazole Derivatives on the HepG2 Cell Line”.
Hepatocellular carcinoma represents 80 percent to 90 percent of primary liver cancer cases worldwide. The structural features of carbazole compounds and their derivatives confer a range of pharmacological activities including effects on DNA, enzyme activity and cytotoxicity, highlighting possible therapeutic potential as anti-cancer agents.
Pillay’s study found that compound five and compound six display progression toward cytotoxic effects on liver carcinoma cells, providing evidence of the therapeutic potential of these compounds to stop cancer progression, thereby acting as successful anti-cancer agents.
Naicker and Sookraj, both honours students in the Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences (Exercise Science), presented on Skin Microvascular Reactivity in Physically Active Students. Their study aimed to determine the effect of aerobic fitness on skin microvascular reactivity and the association between cardio-respiratory and body composition variables and physical activity levels on microvascular reactivity.
Microvascular is the portion of the circulatory system composed of the smallest vessels, such as the capillaries, arterioles, and venules. Previous studies have found that aerobic fitness improves microvascular activity hence reducing cardiovascular risk. However, many of the studies have focused on children and adolescents. What makes this study novel is its focus on university students.
Naidoo and Sookraj’s study participants were 26 physically active male students, who were matched for age. Their findings indicate that aerobic capacity, ventilator threshold and fat mass are independent predictors of microvascular reactivity. This finding has applications for exercise interventions aimed at improving microvascular health by focusing on these independent predictors which through targeted aerobic exercises can reduce cardiovascular risk.
The winning team in the community-based category presented a study titled: “Adverse Event Reporting in HIV Clinical Practice by Healthcare Professionals in the eThekwini Health District”.
This study was conducted to determine whether adverse events are being spontaneously reported by doctors, nurses, pharmacists and post basic pharmacist assistants caring for HIV/AIDS patients attending public health facilities, in the eThekwini Metro Health District.
Results of the study indicated that 82 percent of all health care professionals stated that they were aware of Standard Operating Procedures on adverse reporting, however only 72 percent followed them properly when reporting.
The team further discovered that spontaneous reporting is limited by the lack of knowledge on the reporting process itself and the lack of human resource capital available. This was because many of these institutions were both under-staffed and inadequately equipped to deal with adverse drug events reporting and lack of proper communication between patients and health care professionals due to overload of work as well as language barriers. Health care professionals believed that adverse event reporting could be increased by increasing staff, creating online databases for reporting and offering in- service training.
Guest speaker at the event and one of the adjudicators, Professor Keymanthri Moodley of the University of Stellenbosch said: ‘I am impressed at the high standard of these studies but moreover by the ethical considerations that were strictly adhered to reflecting UKZN’s commitment to embedding ethics in its curriculum.’
- Maryann Francis