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School of Biological Sciences
A/Prof. Steven Gieseg's research team focus on inflammatory processes in sports injury, infection and cardiovascular disease.
A/Prof Gieseg’s research team examines the role of the white blood cells called macrophages in disease and injury. The major focus of the research is on cardiovascular disease which causes strokes and heart attacks. Macrophage cells collect in people’s artery walls over time, where they damage and then accumulate the damaged cholesterol particles from the blood. It is the build-up of the cholesterol filled macrophages which cause the artery wall to become stiff, budge out and narrow, so slowing the flow of blood. As Head of Artery Imaging and Principal Biochemist for MARS Bioimaging Ltd, A/Prof Gieseg directs research on imaging diseased arteries using the MARS Spectral CT scanners. This break-through X-ray technology was developed at the University of Canterbury in collaboration with CERN and the Universities of Otago and Lincoln, allows the contrast free imaging of soft tissues at high resolution. The laboratories biochemistry work focuses on how the damaged cholesterol particles are formed by the macrophage and how these particles cause the macrophages to die, so destabilising the artery walls. This research has progressed to examine how the cholesterol particles affects the inflammation activity of the macrophage in the artery wall. The research has involved growing human white blood cells and artery tissue specimens from surgery in the laboratory before MARS-CT imaging. Through these studies the team have developed sensitive measurement methods to measure inflammation and oxidative stress by both blood and urine analysis.This technology has been applied to the inflammation monitoring of body builders, cyclist, professional rugby players, cage fighters, stroke and surgery patients and patients in intensive care.