Medical outcomes are significantly improved through prompt diagnosis and treatment of disease. Therefore cheap, reliable methods for screening patients for disease are of utmost importance. It is known that the rheological properties of plasma and blood cells are influenced markedly by the surrounding milieu: physicochemical factors, metabolism and hormones. Furthermore, it is well established that both the morphological characteristics of blood and its biochemical parameters change with disease and diet. For instance: a low-fat diet will result in serum cholesterol decreasing by 16%; low adiponectin levels are associated with atherogenic dyslipidemia and lipid-rich plaque; amino acid composition of serum proteins in disease (such as kidney disease) frequently leads to abnormalities; and, secretion of abnormally high levels of certain proteins are associated with various cancers. Blood fluidity is also affected by factors such as the hematocrit, plasma viscosity, erythrocyte aggregation tendency, red blood cell deformability, adhesion properties of platelets and leukocytes, as well as changes in the composition and concentration of the plasma components. Moreover, complicated dynamic processes that take place in the bio-liquids manifest themselves in morphological peculiarities of the structures that develop during dehydration of bio-liquid samples on solid substrates.
Based on observations, such as those above, a simple test involving deposition of a drop of blood serum on a surface has been developed (Litos Test) as a means of identifying certain diseases through the patterns left when the drop evaporates completely.
The aim of this project will be to investigate the factors leading to such variations in deposition pattern with a view to allow a wider range of diseases to be identified in this way.
The project will be mainly experimental, using existing goniometers and micro-particle image velocimetry to study:
- Wetting and evaporation of bio-drops on a range of surface of different hydrophobicity.
- Establishing the dynamics of the drying process and its relationship to deposition and pattern formation.
- Establishing the links between the physico-chemical and rheological properties of drops (using model fluids with similar constituents to blood serum) and the drying patterns.
- Establishing the effect of pressure, temperature and surrounding vapour composition on the drying patterns observed.
Minimum entry qualification - an honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in Chemical or Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry or Biochemistry, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.
Tuition fees + stipend are available for Home/EU students (International students can apply, but the funding only covers the Home/EU fee rate). Applications are also welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere.