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Medical Engineering, Third Year Research Project: Literature Review,

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Step 1

The Task

Medical Engineering, Third Year Research Project: Literature Review,

Queen Mary, University of London

In year 3, medical engineering students conduct an individual research project and write up the work in the form of a research report. This document is designed to demonstrate the student’s ability to analyse and present the findings of an investigation. The report must be written in a coherent and logical manner with conclusions justified by the findings from the students’ own work or by reference to publications.  In general, the report structure consists of a literature review, aims and objectives, methodology, results and discussion (see separate collections on Aims and Objectives and Discussion).

In medical engineering, the literature review is referred to as an introduction. Its purpose is to set the context for the research by drawing together existing information from published sources. The literature review demonstrates the rationale for the research and how it fits within the overall context in the field. In order to do this, the literature must be analysed critically and the current state of research described. From there, the report identifies a research ‘gap’, that is, an area of useful research which has not yet been undertaken. This gap becomes the aim of the project. Thus, the literature review leads on to the aims and objectives. These explain what the research question is and how the project will address it.

Step 2


Text 1 - Reactive Oxygen species production

Stem cells are defined as single cells which have the capacity to undergo proliferation, self maintenance of an undifferentiated phenotype and produce differentiated functional progeny that give rise to specialised, mature cell types of embryonic and adult tissues. These cells have biological properties to produce tissues and organs, with the ability to generate and replace tissue cells through indefinite replication (Jukes et al., 2008, Potten and Loeffler et al.,

1990, Sell, 2004). Differentiation can be defined as the change in cellular phenotype which depends upon its potency for example, totipotent, pluripotent, multipotent and unipotent. Self renewal is regulated through the chromatin structure whereby polycomb group proteins (PcG) repress transcription of gene that regulates differentiation (Jukes et al., 2008). Lastly, proliferation is the division of cells leading to cyclic changes in gene expression (Potten and Loeffler et al., 1990). Extensive researches in stem cells have been conducted as they could be utilised as potential tools in medicine to cure diseased tissues and organs.

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Text 2 - SUN2

Stem cells are cells that have potential to commit to a more specialized cell through what is termed differentiation. Cells become more committed, specialized, as they undergo differentiation, which is characterized by changes to a cells phenotype due to the alteration of the expression or repression of certain genes (C. S. Potten, 1990).

Most lineage commited cells will proliferate a finite number of times before they reach senescence, stem cells have the capacity for prolonged proliferation (Lanza, 2005), and can either divide reproducing a copy of itself, or to a differentiated daughter cell (Catherine M. Verfaillie, 2002). In mature organisms reserves of stem cells are maintained within tissues meaning that when needed they can differentiate to replace damaged cells, or those being replaced in normal tissue turnover

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Text 3 - THz – TDS detection of cartilage proteins

Articular cartilage covers the articulating ends of the diarthodial joint. The main function of articular cartilage joint is to reduce the stress at the contact point by relaying loads over a larger surface area reducing the stress to a safe level. Other main functions include the protection of the underlying bone and ensure that the joint has a low wear bearing surface. Articular cartilages are avascular, aneural and alymphatic, therefore cartilages respond to damage very slowly. With the absence of blood, the transport of nutrients occurs through diffusion, most of the nutrients are derived from the synovial fluid.

1.1.1 Composition

In Articular cartilage there is only one specialized cell called chondrocytes. The chondrocytes differ in size, shape (Fig.2) and metabolic activity in the different regions of cartilage but all the chondrocytes contain the organelles for the synthesis of matrix. The chondrocytes from the superficial zone breakdown proteoglycan more rapidly than cells from the deeper zone, this is the only time when the cells from the superficial layer are metabolically more active then the cells from the deeper regions (Aydelotte et al., 1992). The chondrocytes play a role in the synthesis of matrix during growth stage and in the degradation of matrix in joint disease (Lohmander 1992).

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