A new laboratory of reference for physiopathology
José Pichel Andrés/DICYT The Universidade da Beira Interior has recently implemented a General Physiopathology Laboratory, a unit providing services and carrying out research that is part of UBIMedical, the health centre that also aims to boost the creation and development of companies. One of the main occupations of this new laboratory will be the study of human respiration and its pathologies.
This unit is capable of assessing respiration under normal circumstances and in the case of illness and at rest and during exercise; it can carry out analyses of the thoracic and abdominal structures by means of ultrasound scanning and of organs such as the liver by non invasive means. This type of test on both adults and children allows the characterisation of problems such as fibrosis, according to the information that the coordinator of the laboratory, Miguel Castelo Branco, and his collaborators have given to DiCYT.
The unit is still at the stage of the installation of equipment as it only started to operate in March, but it has already set itself several targets in the field of research.
One of the areas that will be addressed by the scientists is that of epidemiological studies of the respiration of the population, concentrating on the analysis of the prevalence of Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COLD) and asthma, especially in elderly patients.
The experts likewise aim to assess respiratory and cardiac rehabilitation programmes that the patients can follow from their own homes using telemedicine, an innovative approach that new technologies make possible.
Studying the liver
On the one hand, the researchers of the General Physiopathology Laboratory will try to characterise ailments of the liver and will study their monitoring from paediatric to adult age. They are interested in adipose infiltration in the liver, i.e. the abnormal accumulation of fat in this organ. They are also working on liver fibrosis which is related to other serious problems, such as hepatitis C, and on treatments for both ailments.
Apart from all these possibilities in the field of scientific research, the new UBIMedical unit also has an extensive catalogue of services, particularly in the field of the diagnosis of lung, liver, and heart disease. The laboratory can carry out breathing tests to assess the underlying physiopathological cause, for example in cases of heart failure. The instruments of this unit allow the carrying out of spirometries, cardiorespiratory effort tests, and oximetries. The laboratory puts its faith in the use of non invasive methods to asses problems such as liver fibrosis and hepatic steatosis or fatty liver for all age groups.
UBIMedical is completed by another series of laboratories devoted to research in fields as diverse as neurophysiology, neuropsychology, biomechanics, air quality, and ophthalmology, among others. After an investment of five million euros in a project co-financed with European funds, this centre attached to the Universidade da Beira Interior becomes the major point of reference of biomedical research in north-east Portugal. Moreover, one of its main missions is the transferring of knowledge so that knowledge is transformed into innovative companies.