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Biomedical - The interaction between biology and medicine usually in relation to understanding the biological basis of disease processes, which will impact on the medical arena.
Cadaver - A corpse. In a medical context this indicates a dead body. See also cadaveric.
Cadaveric - Derived from a corpse. A cadaveric donor is a brain dead individual who donates organs to help save the lives of others. Cadaveric donors are ventilated on an intensive therapy unit in order to keep the organs oxygenated and therefore in a viable state for transplantation. (See also heart-beating donor and non heart-beating donor).
Cancer - A general term to cover a malignant (abnormal and dangerous) growth, which can affect most parts of the human body. Such a disease can arise as a consequence of multiple mechanisms including lifestyle and genetics. Cancer will upset the normal function of that part of the body and may ultimately spread to other parts of the body with potentially life threatening consequences. Cancer is a major disease causing significant suffering and contributes to worldwide death rates. It can be treated by drugs, surgery and or radiation therapy.
Cell culture - The growth of cells derived originally from a tissue or organ, under controlled sterile conditions. Such techniques allow experiments to be performed which help researchers understand more about the tissue from which the cells were originally derived, the development of new drugs and an understanding of diseases which may affect that tissue or organ.
Cell signalling pathway - When cells grow/die they are told to do so by a series of messengers. This growth process is composed of various stages. Cell signalling refers to the messages that are being transmitted by these messengers, which ultimately leads to cell growth.
Clinical trial - When new treatments are being developed following laboratory based experiments they ultimately need to be trialed in humans. Before a drug can be licensed and thus available for use in the population at large it will be given in a very controlled manner to a small sample of patients who suffer from the disease. In this way the success and side effects of the drug can be closely monitored preventing the further development of inefficient and toxic drugs.
Co-culture - See cell culture. Co-cultured techniques enable the investigations of more than one cell type (and hence organ/tissue) at the same time.
Co-factors - See cell signalling pathways. Within our cells complex and multiple mechanisms occur in order for each cell to function and survive. Co-factors are supporting factors which enable these reactions to occur.
Chemoprevention - Reduction of the risk of diseases by chemical means. Agents such as food, drugs, vitamins, and lifestyle e.g. not smoking, eating a "healthy" diet (rich in fruit and vegetables) which ultimately can prevent the development of cancer disease (see cancer).
Cryopreservation - Low temperature preservation of cells, tissues and organs to prolong their life, with the aim that on thawing will retain their original function and activity.
Curcumin -(turmeric spice) A yellow spice often added to curries for flavour and colour which has been extensively studied as it is believed to have chemopreventive activity (see chemoprevention).
Diabetes - A chronic disease involving disorder of carbohydrate metabolism and disturbance in production, action or metabolic rate of utilisation of insulin. Insulin is a hormone secreted by cells in the pancreas. Sufferers may require insulin injections or may be able to regulate this abnormality through control of their diet. The incidence of diabetes has increased alarmingly in recent years, which has been attributed in part to lifestyle changes.
Drug metabolism - When a drug is taken into the body it is seen as foreign and the body attempts to remove it. In order for this removal (excretion) process to occur drugs usually will be broken down or altered in some way usually by the action of enzymes (see enzymes).
Enzymes - Soluble proteins found in cells which enable reactions. These are biological catalysts which govern all life processes. They are unchanged by their activities so that they can be used again and again. See also cell signalling pathways, drug metabolism, induction, phase I enzymes, phase II enzymes, ROD assays.
Epidemiological - Refers to the scientific study of the distribution of diseases within a population.
Ethics - Guidance and regulation that defines proper moral behaviour. Healthcare research is governed by an ethical framework that requires that all human tissue research carried out in the NHS or on material derived from a past or present NHS patient, to be subject to the scrutiny of an independant ethics committee. The UK Human Tissue Bank only provides tissue for research to research groups who have gained the approval of their local NHS research ethics committee and signed a Tissue Transfer Agreement that defines the use of that tissue. The UK Human Tissue Bank has also gained approval for the procurement of human tissue for research from several local research ethics committees, to ensure proper transparency and accountability for the use of tissue for the advancement of medical knowledge.
Foetal - Refers to an unborn child
Gonadal- Refers to the female and male organs which produce reproductive cells, i.e. ovary and testis. See also reproductive tissue.
Heart-beating donor - The brain has died but a ventilator provides oxygen and keeps the heart beating to provide oxygen to the rest of the organs until they are removed for transplantation. See also non heart-beating donor.
Hepatic - Refers to the liver
Hepatocytes - The main type of cells which make up the liver
Induction - (induce) Any process that brings on activity.
In vitro techniques - Literally "in glass" methods, that is experiments in the laboratory not within a living organism situation. See also cell culture.
Isoenzymes - See enzymes. There are many different types of enzyme, each individual enzyme has a specific function. Research has revealed that an enzyme may exist in different forms (isoenzymes) which although having a common function may show slight variation according to the individual subtype.
ITU - Intensive Therapy Unit, also called Intensive Care Unit. A ward within a hospital providing care for critically ill patients, usually on a one nurse to one patient basis. The patients may need extreme life support for their condition such as ventilation and cardiac (heart) monitoring.
Multi-organ donor - A brain dead cadaver who donates more than one organ type after death to help save the lives of others.
Neurological disease - Disease which affect the brain and nervous system.
Non-Heart Beating Donor -Patients who die in hospitals without being ventilated may also be considered for organ donation. These patients usually die from an acute heart condition in the Accident and Emergency department and are identified as being suitable to donate their organs for transplantation. Kidneys are the main organs currently used in the UK from such patients. If the relatives agree, the organs are retrieved usually within an hour of death occurring. See also heart beating donor.
Non-transplantable - Organs of the body which cannot be transplanted such as stomach or bladder. It may also relate to organs that cannot be transplanted because they are not in a good enough condition such as the lungs of a donor who smoked very heavily.
Oncology - The study of cancer
Parenchymal - Cells which make up part of an organ and are responsible for that organs function (see cell culture).
Phase I enzymes - When a drug (chemical) is metabolised it will initially be acted on by these enzymes which may oxidise (add oxygen) or reduce (remove oxygen or add hydrogen) the chemical (see enzymes, drug metabolism).
Phase II conjugation - After a drug is oxidised/reduced it usually will be joined to another substance (e.g. sulphate, glucuronide) which will enable it to be successfully removed from the body. Phase II enzymes enable such a process to occur within cells (see drug metabolism, enzymes, Phase I enzymes).
Cytochrome P450 - Is the major type of phase I enzyme. Cytochrome P450 describes a family of enzymes, which can be divided into many different types. Researchers study these enzymes to better understand how drugs are metabolised by the body. (see enzyme, isoenzyme, drug metabolism).
Predisposed individuals - Certain people within the population who have an increased risk of developing a specific disease.
Pro-carcinogen/Carcinogen - Compounds that may cause cancer. Carcinogens are found in cigarette smoke, pollutants, charred meats etc and are involved in the complex process which can ultimately lead to cancer development. It is likely that some of these carcinogens (pro-carcinogens) are not initially harmful but following the action of enzymes in the human body they become so (see enzymes, cancer).
Pro-drug - Precursor of an active drug. Once we take a drug we expect it to exert a therapeutic effect e.g. paracetamol to help a headache. Sometimes it may not be the actual original drug that we take that is responsible for the response seen but in order for an effect to be seen this drug (pro-drug) may require changing in some way e.g. metabolism by enzymes. Once it has been changed it can then act to help the complaint (see enzymes, drug metabolism)
Reproductive tissue - Refers to the functional organs and tissue involved in the processes of conception, pregnancy and birth.
Research - The detailed investigation, examination and study into a particular subject.
Resection - A surgical operation to remove diseased tissues e.g. cancer. A small portion of healthy tissue around the diseased area is also removed to ensure the disease is cleared. As much healthy tissue as possible is left in place.
Respiratory disease - Disease which affects the breathing of an individual.
ROD assay - Experiment performed to measure phase I enzyme activity in cells (see enzyme and phase I enzymes)
Surgical residue - Tissue that will be removed as a consequence of an operation but is unsuitable for clinical use.
Tissue bank - An institution acting as an intermediary between the donor of tissue and the end user of that tissue.
Tissue Procurement Manager - An individual who works to obtain tissue which would otherwise go to waste, for the tissue bank from a number of sources.
Tissue Transfer Agreement - A legal document signed by researchers to agree the use of tissues supplied by the UKHTB.
Toxicology - The study of the toxic (harmful) effect of drugs, diet, environmental factors on the human body.
Transplantation - A surgical procedure to implant a donated organ or tissue into an individual suffering from a disease which has caused his/her own corresponding organ or tissue to fail.
Transplant coordinator - A specialised worker who facilitates the process of organ donation and the subsequent organ transplantation within a hospital environment.
Ventilator - A machine which assists with breathing. It is used when patients need an anaesthetic or are unable to breathe for themselves due to trauma or disease or to support recovery after major surgery. When it becomes evident that the patient will not recover and after brain stem death has been diagnosed it may continue to be used for short period to maintain the organs in a good condition for transplantation.
Viability - Capacity for life. Cell viability will indicate how well cultured cells are living and growing (see cell culture).