Laurie and Aliya recently finished their Masters in Clinical Research (MRes) degrees – congratulations to them! After much hard work they have written and handed in their 15,000 word essays and we have said goodbye to them as they have returned to their old jobs – Aliya in the lung function department here at King’s College Hospital, and Laurie back to Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Our other Masters students, Cara and Gavin, have also recently completed their degrees in Human and Applied Physiology and have left us; well done to them for hard work in their projects. We will miss them all (and we hope they miss us a little bit too).
On a happier note, we welcome 3 new MRes students to the lab – Matt, Hannah and Lorna. Like Aliya, Lorna has come to us from the lung function department at King’s College Hospital so we know her well; she will be working on a project involving children with asthma. Hannah is a physiotherapist from King’s who will do a project seeing how we can improve leg strength in people with COPD. Matt is a respiratory physiologist who normally works at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and will be looking at blood flow in people’s leg muscles during exercise. They started here last week so haven’t got started with their projects just yet, but we will be working them hard so it won’t be long before they’re making measurements!
Like a lot of offices, we drink a lot of tea to get us through the day. If we get the opportunity, we quite enjoy eating biscuits. Our student, Cara, has just finished her project with us and very kindly gave us a teapot and some yummy biscuits as a thank you present. We’re going to enjoy our afternoon cups of tea even more now!
Matt has recently started a new study looking into muscle weakness in patients with lung cancer. The study is funded by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.
People with lung cancer often lose muscle strength as a result of their disease and its treatment. Muscle weakness may make people with lung cancer feel more tired and breathless, and makes it more difficult for them to do the things they enjoy. At the moment, we don’t know very much about how weak people’s muscles become, and which particular muscles are most affected.
In this study, Matt will measure muscle strength in the thigh, calf, hand, stomach and chest of people with lung cancer and some people of the same age without any health problems. He will use tests where people have to push, pull or blow as hard as they can (depending on which muscle he’s testing), and will also use magnets to make the muscles work on their own. We call this “twitching”. Using the magnets means we can see how strong a muscle is even if someone finds the pushing/pulling/blowing difficult, which is common when people are not very well and feel tired. Matt will also ask the volunteers to do a simple walking test, to see if the strength of people’s muscles is related to how far they can walk. When the study is finished, Matt will compare the average muscle strength of the people with lung cancer to the average for the group of healthy people.
We already know that people who don’t walk around very much tend to get weak legs, and that people with lung cancer often don’t do very much walking. We therefore expect that we will find that the people with lung cancer have weaker legs than the healthy volunteers. If we see differences in the strength of the chest, stomach and hand muscles, this might suggest that it is the lung cancer or its treatment that might be making them weak, as we know that these muscles don’t normally get weaker just from people doing less exercise.
We hope that the results of this study will make it easier to give people the right treatment for their muscle weakness – knowing which muscles tend to get weak means that we can treat just these muscles and not give people treatments they don’t need.
If you think you might be interested in being part of this study, please get in touch with Matt: firstname.lastname@example.org