In the UK this week, it is Parkinson’s Awareness Week. The aim is to raise awareness of the disease by doing a good deed and tweeting about it using #upyourfriendly.
We can all get involved; just by being nice to the people we meet. You can make new friends and maybe someone’s life a little easier without even knowing it. Check out the campaign to learn more.
With this strategy in mind, I thought I’d raise awareness of the work of some chemical engineers who are definitely ‘up-ing their friendly’ by working behind the scenes to help combat the symptoms of this debilitating disease.
Parkinson’s disease affects one in every 500 people. That’s an estimated 127,000 people in the UK – or around 8.5 million globally.
It is a progressive neurological condition that affects nerve cells in the brain, causing them to die. This results in lower dopamine levels in the body with serious implications for mobility and emotional behaviour.
High specification personal computers mean that most of us can perform our jobs sat at home, work or even on the road.
But processing and modelling large amounts of data to help our understanding of complex and mammoth tasks like the formation of the universe, predicting weather patterns, or large and complex engineering problems require more than the average desktop computer.
Hence, the growth of supercomputers in recent times. But they don’t come cheap.
An international collaboration of researchers in Germany, Netherlands and the US have used chemical engineering principles to track single molecules inside living cells with carbon nanotubes.
Chemical engineers from Rice University and biophysicists from Georg-August Universität Göttingen and VU University Amsterdam found that cells stir their interiors using the same motor proteins that serve in muscle contraction. The study, which sheds new light on biological transport mechanisms in cells, was published in Science.