Flinders Medical Centre Foundation
Flinders Medical Centre Foundation



Monday, 19 July 2010 13:58

Dr Ganessan Kichenadasse, Oncologist from Flinders Medical Centre is getting on his bike, all in the name of charity as he competes in the social aspect of this year’s Tour de France.

Dr Kichenadasse will put his cycling skills to the test by riding 8 stages or 685km of the Tour de France, in order to raise $5,000 or more for both the FMC Foundation and the McGuinness McDermott Foundation.

Inspired by Lance Armstrong’s survival story, Dr Kichenadasse decided to specialise in Oncology – the branch of medicine concerned with the study and treatment of tumours (cancers); and over the last two years he has also developed a passion for cycling, just like his hero Lance.

Dr Kichenadasse will join seven other cyclists from the charity cycle team as they begin this legendary endurance race in the Pyrenees and finish with the grand final on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

With bulldozers set to move in on the site of the new $27 million Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer (FCIC) in a matter of weeks, Dr Kichenadasse is hoping that his cycling team will raise thousands of dollars to fund vital cancer research in the LIVESTRONG™ Cancer Research Centre within the new Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer; and to help care for kids with cancer at the Women and Children’s Hospital (WCH).

Dr Kichenadasse said: "I really enjoy cycling and I was looking for a new personal challenge, as well as helping to raise awareness about cancer and funds to fight the disease.

“One in three Australians will be affected by cancer within their lifetime. I am particularly interested in brain tumours, and although there is a lot happening in the understanding of the biology of such cancers, there has been only a marginal improvement in terms of survival outcomes.

“I hope that by completing this challenge I can inspire others to do something similar to raise awareness and funds for charity; as every single dollar raised will go to support vital research into cancer prevention, early intervention and innovative cures.”

You can support Dr Kichenadasse or the other riders participating in this challenge by making a donation online at his Everyday Hero page or call the FMC Foundation at 8204 5216.



Friday, 25 June 2010 00:00

A new bariatric surgery technique, developed by an international collaboration featuring Flinders University surgeons, is showing promise in the treatment of not only obesity but also Type II diabetes and hypertension.

Unlike traditional bariatric procedures which involve restricting or rerouting food or removing part of the stomach, in this new procedure two electrodes are implanted through keyhole surgery and attached to the vagus nerves at the entrance to the stomach.

A device similar to a pacemaker is then implanted just under the skin which sends electrical pulses to block the vagus nerves, which results in the patient feeling fuller and less hungry.

A Flinders team led by Professor Jim Toouli, Professor of Surgery at Flinders University, was second in the world to perform this procedure in 2006 (beaten only by a Mexican team who started earlier because of the time difference).

After successful trials in three centres around the world, the device was found to successfully aid weight loss and specialists also noted it appeared to control type II diabetes and high blood pressure quicker than other forms of bariatric surgery.

Type II diabetes is characterised by high blood glucose levels and is linked to obesity through the accumulation of fat in the liver which can cause insulin resistance.

A second international trial focussed on the implications of the procedure for 30 type II diabetes patients has recently concluded. Flinders was the largest of four trial centres, performing the procedure on 10 patients.

Professor Toouli said the trial has "shown great results" and the procedure could be a significant alternative in the treatment of type II diabetes and high blood pressure if diet and exercise fail to manage the condition.

"Because the procedure is minimally invasive, it could also be used to treat type II diabetes sufferers who are not as obese who would not normally be considering having a major operation."

However, the researchers are yet to determine why the device is more effective in controlling the conditions than traditional weight loss surgeries.

"We believe blocking the nerves could cause hormonal and neurotransmitter changes which may cause this result," Professor Toouli said. "It is now the subject of further laboratory research here at Flinders to better understand how that works."



Friday, 25 June 2010 00:00

Flinders investigations are leading the world in determining whether video game playing and electronic media use can have an impact on a teenager's sleep.

In a study at the Child and Adolescent Sleep Clinic at Flinders, 13 teenagers were assessed over the course of a few weeks as to how long it took them to fall asleep after 50 minutes of video game playing before bedtime, or 50 minutes of watching a relaxing DVD.

The study, led by Dr Michael Gradisar, found that those who played video games before bed took nearly double the length of time to fall asleep as the DVD watchers, although the difference was only an average of three or four minutes.

As was expected, a third of the teenagers also fell asleep while watching the DVD but none fell asleep while playing the video game.

"While the difference in falling asleep was only a matter of minutes it seems a small amount of activity does seem to produce a small effect," Dr Gradisar said. "Now we want to investigate whether there will be a bigger effect on sleep if the teenagers play for longer."

Dr Gradisar's research has found sleep problems occur in up to 50 per cent of South Australian children and adolescents at some stage of their
development, and 70 teenagers have been treated at the Child and Adolescent Sleep Clinic at Flinders since it opened in 2006.

The effects of sleep deprivation on young people can have "significant consequences" on their school attendance and learning and concentration levels.

"Poor sleep during teenage years has also been linked to elevated levels of depression," Dr Gradisar said.

"Parents should be mindful about even having electronic media in their kids' bedrooms - televisions, mp3 players, computers, mobile phones.

"It is well known that television viewing before bedtime is associated with young people going to bed later and getting less sleep, but even mobile phones can emit a lot of light at night which can also have an effect on a teenager's body clock." 


Bill Gates and Flinders Save Children

Tuesday, 01 June 2010 00:00

Thanks to a multi-million dollar Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant, FMC Gastroenterologist Professor Graeme Young's work in bowel cancer prevention is now playing a central role in an international project to trial a new treatment for acute diarrhoea.

The dehydration associated with acute diarrhoea can be fatal in young children.

"There are now in excess of two million children under the age of five dying each year from acute diarrhoeal illness. Such deaths are absolutely preventable," said Professor Young, Director of Development of the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer.

The risk of death from dehydration can usually be eliminated by taking an oral rehydration solution (ORS), which corrects fluid balance. 

However, because existing solutions rehydrate but do not appear to lessen the duration or severity of the diarrhoea, mothers in developing countries are showing an increasing reluctance to give it to their children.

Professor Young has been working with Dr Henry Binder at the Yale School of Medicine in the United States, and Dr BS Ramakrishna at Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, for more than 15 years on improving the uptake of ORS in developing countries.

His research into how resistant starch helps prevent bowel cancer has led to the development of a new ORS which the team believes is more effective in reducing fluid loss.

"The addition of the resistant starch gives the new ORS a dual action - promoting fluid absorption in both the small and large intestine and shortening the duration of diarrhoea by reducing fluid loss," said Professor Young.

The group recently received a grant of $US 1.8 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to perform randomised clinical trials and community studies to test the effectiveness and uptake of the new ORS.

"We expect mothers will find this much more acceptable and that our approach will have a profound and sustained benefit on children's health and welfare," Professor Young said.


Loosen your bra straps for Lymphoedema

Tuesday, 01 June 2010 00:00

Flinders researchers are investigating whether a patient's bra may play a key role in helping cause or exacerbate lymphoedema of the breast or arm.

Lymphoedema, a condition of localised swelling, occurs when the fluid in the body's tissues cannot be moved by the lymphatic system (a delicate network of small vessels responsible for managing the body's fluid levels).

Women who have undergone surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer are particularly susceptible to lymphoedema as their treatment may have resulted in damage to the lymphatic system of the breast, chest and armpit.

Professor Neil Piller (pictured) and his team from the FMC Lymphoedema Assessment Clinic are investigating whether other factors may play a role in causing the swelling, such as bras which exert higher pressures on remaining lymph pathways.

The team are conducting a long term trial to determine whether made-to-measure bras, which are less restricting and allow for better lymphatic drainage than shop-bought-bras, will reduce the incidence and severity of breast lymphoedemas.

"There is no doubt that the superficial lymphatic system is susceptible to constant external pressure.  It could be that the wrong placement of the shoulder strap of the bra is a factor in causing the arm or breast to swell unnecessarily," Professor Piller said.

25 women recruited from the Flinders Surgical Oncology Clinic are currently participating in the trial, which invoves measuring the pressures exerted by their bras and the changes in the composition in the breast using a range of equipment developed by Flinders biomedical Engineering.  The women are then followed up every three months.

Professor Piller said early findings show excessively high bra strap, side panel and under-wire pressures are leading to reduced lymph flow, poor breast tissue health and fluid accumulation in some women. 


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