CBNS researcher Dr Mike Whittaker and Dr Betty Exintaris (Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences) along with Professor Gail Risbridger and Dr Stuart Ellem (Monash University), have been successful in securing funding from the International Research Training Group (IRTG) between Monash University and Justus-Liebig University (JLU), Germany.
The German Research Foundation first established the funding for the IRTG in 2013, with the primary objective of training a new generation of researchers to tackle a critical global health issue: men’s reproductive health. This program, called Molecular Pathogenesis of Male Reproductive Disorders will now be extended for a further 4.5 years, until 2022.
The renewal funding will provide more than $6.5 million AUD with CBNS researcher Dr Mike Whittaker and Dr Betty Exintaris (Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences) along with Professor Gail Risbridger and Dr Stuart Ellem (Monash University), have been successful in securing funding from the International Research Training Group (IRTG) between Monash University and Justus-Liebig University (JLU) Germany, along with 11 tuition and living stipend scholarships.
This new project will investigate a novel target for the treatment of the lower urinary tract symptoms associated with a benign enlargement or growth of the prostate gland:benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). While BPH is not usually life-threatening, its symptoms caused by constriction of the urethra can have a major effect on quality of life. The JLU Giessen partners on the project are experts on smooth muscle contractility in the male reproductive system, including cGMP signaling and the influence of androgens on the prostate.
This project will also fund 2 PhD tuition and living stipends, as well as the opportunity to spend significant research time at the partner university and co-branded PhDs.
This article was first published in The Australian. 1 June 2017.
A “game changing” analgesic could bring relief to millions of Australians, after Melbourne researchers discovered why so many previous attempts to develop new pain drugs have floundered.
In a proof-of-concept study, Monash University scientists unravelled the molecular workings of a “receptor” protein long implicated in chronic pain. When they used the insights to tweak a failed drug, it doused pain in laboratory mice and rats.
Co-researchers at New York’s Columbia University are now laying plans to trial the technique in humans. The team hopes the breakthrough, outlined this morning in the journal Science Translational Medicine, will help suppress a global pain epidemic afflicting tens of millions of people worldwide.
Chronic pain is considered the most common cause of disability, affecting more people than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. Current drugs often do not work and carry serious side effects, with anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen thought to increase the risk of heart attacks, while morphine and other opioids cause around 600 accidental deaths a year in Australia alone.
Co-author Meritxell Canals, from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Bio-Nano Science, said the “NK1” receptor had long been known to play a role in pain transmission. She said researchers had spent a decade developing drugs to control pain by blocking the receptor, but none of them had worked.
The new study found that the protein transmitted pain signals not when it was lurking on the surface of nerve cells, as researchers had assumed, but after it had migrated inside the cells. “They were targeting the right receptor, but in the wrong location,” Dr Canals said.
The team devised a way of forcing drugs through cell walls by attaching them to fat molecules. Tests using an existing drug, spantide, found that the technique provided “prolonged” pain relief in rodents.
Dr Canals said analgesics re-engineered in this way could prove effective against aching joints and backs and the pain caused by cancer, among other things. “The challenge now is to translate the technology into human clinical trials.”
Lead researcher Nigel Bunnett, who joined Columbia last year from Monash’s Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, said more than one-third of current drugs targeted receptor proteins on cell surfaces. He said modifying them in similar ways could boost the effectiveness of “many different classes of medications”.
Monash and CBNS Chief Investigator, Professor Ben Boyd has received a significant grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at progressing a highly effective treatment for malaria.
The funding will support research into how the unique properties of milk, in particular its propensity for nano-scale structures during digestion, impacts on the effectiveness of anti-malarial drugs.
Collaborating with Dr Adrian Hawley at the Australian Synchrotron, the research uses high powered X-ray analysis made possible by the Australian Synchrotron to increase the understanding of the processes that take place within the human body when it digests milk. The research has revealed for the first time that mammalian milk undergoes a complex self-assembly process during digestion. In normal conditions, it is believed that this process aides the body in the uptake of nutrition and supports healthy development. These processes do not occur with formula-based products or alternatives, such as soy milk.
However, there is more to this than the healthy nutritional and developmental qualities of milk. Professor Boyd and his research team have also discovered that the chemical processes that are unlocked by the human body when it processes mammalian milk can provide high levels of absorption not apparent with more common drug formulation approaches. In real terms, this means that with a single dose, malaria could be cured, potentially eliminating the suffering of millions and preventing hundreds of thousands of deaths annually.
When asked about the possible benefit of his research, Professor Boyd said:
The impact of malaria in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa is immense. If we can work with pharmaceutical industry to enable the translation of promising new drug molecules to medicines, a highly effective treatment for malaria could result and significantly reduce the impact of this disease on the young.
Malaria is a mosquito born disease, which is widespread in tropical and sub-tropical regions. In 2015, there were over 214 million cases of malaria worldwide, with an estimated death toll of 438,000 people – many of whom were children under the age of five, who are the prime target population for these new medicines.
Some of the obstacles to the delivery of a milk-based treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa are the widespread lack of available refrigeration, variable quality and availability of milk, and general cultural resistance to taking pill-based medicines. By understanding exactly how milk works to enable these medicines to be absorbed by the body, we intend to unlock the potential to assemble simpler controlled ingredients that have a similar function to milk.
Professor Boyd is an expert in colloid and physical chemistry, with significant experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Based at Monash University, he is one of the Chief Investigators in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science — a national innovator in bio-nano sciences and an incubator of the expertise and technological excellence required to develop next generation bio-responsive nanomaterials. His research focuses on colloids and lipid self-assembly and his group is active in developing new synchrotron-based characterisation approaches for lipid and solid state systems.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Dr Susan Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
The Australian Synchrotron is Australia’s largest and arguably most successful scientific user facility, benefitting over 3000 researchers from academia, medical research institutes, government and other research organisations. The facility is operated by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and has been directly involved in the generation of more than 700 publications in refereed journals. Scientific research and innovation at the Australian Synchrotron spans a huge diversity of activities from medical and life sciences to advanced materials and engineering, and from earth and environmental sciences to accelerator science and synchrotron research methods.
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, remains a global epidemic with millions of people infected worldwide. An estimated 27,000 people in Australia and 1.9 million in India are living with the disease.
Research has led to many advances in treatment, which have improved and extended peoples’ lives, but an effective vaccine and cure remain elusive.
That may change with the help of ‘Elite Controllers’, people infected with HIV who are able to naturally control the infection in their blood with Antibody-Dependent Cellular Cytotoxicity (ADCC) antibodies. These specialised antibodies are a normal part of the body’s immune system. They identify and destroy infected cells by bonding to specific markers on a cell wall, then signal for the body’s immune system to attack.
However, Elite Controllers’ ADCC antibodies seem to be able to identify and destroy HIV infected cells where most peoples’ ADCC antibodies cannot. Researchers hope that a better understanding of Elite Controllers’ ADCC antibodies and the chemical markers of HIV that they target will lead to immunotherapies capable of curing HIV and fast track the development of an effective vaccine.
Australia and India both have world-class scientists studying Elite Controllers’ ADCC antibodies, looking for a game changing discovery in the fight against HIV. By collaborating, these scientists are able to pool their resources, technologies and ideas to make advances that neither could readily achieve alone.
With the support of the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund, Australian researchers at the University of Melbourne, led by Professor Stephen Kent, are teaming up with their Indian counterparts at the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) in Pune, India, to study Elite Controllers and their ADCC antibodies.
Professor Kent and his team have been working with 22 Elite Controllers in Melbourne and Sydney to identify which ADCC antibodies are most potent. Their colleagues at NARI have also been working with HIV infected people who naturally control HIV.
Together, the two research teams are identifying the specific B cells in the immune system that make these ADCC antibodies. Once the B cells are identified, the researchers will be able to synthesise these potent antibodies. This will be an important step towards new therapies being developed and the realisation of a cure for HIV. Both teams are hopeful that, as their research progresses, it will create knowledge that will have a real impact on HIV worldwide.
Australian Team Leader:
Professor Stephen Kent
University of Melbourne
Indian Team Leader:
Dr Madhuri Thakar
National AIDS Research Institute
For more information, and other case studies of Australia’s successful collaborations through the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund, visit the science.gov.au website.
Dr Mattias Björnmalm, from the Caruso lab at Melbourne University has been awarded a lucrative Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action grant by the European Commission. The fellowship was extremely competitive, with just under 9000 proposals considered by the organisers.
The 30 chosen researchers represent the 100,000 fellows who have been supported by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions over the past two decades. The group includes 28 European nationals, one from each EU Member State, one from Colombia and one from New Zealand. Their research topics cover a wide spectrum, ranging from tackling climate change and ground breaking research on fighting cancer to the prevention of violent radicalisation.
The grants were announced by Tibor Navracsics, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, on the eve of 2017 International Women’s’ Day.
The grants enable researchers to go abroad and support cooperation between institutions and industry. For every single beneficiary, the award is an important boost for their career and the chance to improve citizens’ lives by advancing knowledge and innovation.
Mattias grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, before going to Lund University to study bioengineering and nanoscience. In 2013 he moved to Australia to pursue a PhD in chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Melbourne with Professor Frank Caruso’s lab. He completed in 2016. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher, and his research is focused on using strategies from science and engineering to develop nanomaterials for biomedical applications.
The grant will enable Mattias to work with Professor Stevens, a CBNS Partner Investigator at the Imperial College London. The work will investigate how nanoparticles interact with cells and tissues using state-of-the-art spectroscopic techniques. A key challenge in this area has been to understand exactly what happens when nanoparticles are taken up by cells: What are the mechanisms involved? How are the particles and cells affected? and How does this translate into the groupings of cells that build up tissues? The answers to these questions are fundamental both for our understanding of these systems, but also for making the next generation of nanoparticles to help doctors treat diseases that are difficult—or even impossible—to treat today.
Dr Björnmalm said of the fellowship: “I’m looking forward to working with Professor Molly Stevens and her world-class interdisciplinary biomaterials team at Imperial College London. Their extensive experience in materials science and cell and tissue biology will be key for investigating these challenging topics.
The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, named after the double Nobel Prizewinning Polish-French scientist famed for her work on radioactivity, support excellent researchers at all stages of their careers, irrespective of nationality. The programme is open to all domains of research and innovation, from fundamental research to market take-up and innovation services. Research and innovation fields are chosen freely by the applicants (individuals and/or organisations).
The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions aim to equip researchers with the necessary skills and international experience for a successful career, either in the public or the private sector. The actions are a key part of Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme. During the current financing period (2014 – 2020), with a budget of EUR 6.2 billion, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions are expected to support around 65,000 researchers.
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions: https://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/news/20170307-msca-researchers-100-000_en
As a major South African HIV vaccination trial gets underway a new study suggests its benefits could be undercut by vaccine-resistant strains. Paul Biegler reports.
Well-intentioned trials of HIV vaccination could lead to hundreds of thousands of unanticipated infections because of a sting in the tail of the vaccine, according to a new study.
A team led by Joshua Herbeck from the University of Washington used mathematical modelling to estimate the rate at which HIV vaccination caused vaccine-resistant virus to evolve, a process known as adaptation.
In a scenario where 70% of the population was vaccinated, the researchers calculated that within 10 years up to 250,000 new HIV cases could arise solely as a result of resistant-strains.
“Our results predict that HIV adaptation in response to vaccination may have a considerable, and detrimental, public health impact,” they write in the article, which was lodged on pre-print website biorxiv in late February, ahead of peer review.
The issue is of particular concern in South Africa, where the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates 19.2% of adults live with HIV.
South Africa is also the venue for HVTN 702, touted as the largest HIV vaccination trial ever to take place in that country.
Launched in November and partially funded by the National Institute of Health, HVTN 702 is scheduled to enrol 5400 men and women.
Previous HIV vaccination trials have produced underwhelming results. The RV144 trial in Thailand which ran from 2003 to 2006, for example, was only 31% effective in preventing the virus.
The researchers analysed the RV144 results and found significant genetic differences between HIV strains in participants who received the vaccine and those who got a placebo.
“(Genetic) variation in HIV can be associated with differential infection rates in a vaccinated population, making viral adaptation a potential outcome,” the authors write.
In initial modelling of a sensitive strain of HIV the researchers found a vaccine covering 70% of the population would prevent 40% of infections over 10 years.
But worrying findings emerged when the researchers fed vaccine-resistant HIV strains into the model, a step, they argue, which was critically omitted in earlier models.
“In all simulations … resistant virus increased in proportion after vaccine rollout,” the researchers continue.
And as greater resistance emerged, vaccine effectiveness dropped.
Commenting on the findings, Professor Stephen Kent from Melbourne’s Doherty Institute said, “It is likely that partially efficacious vaccines will be first to market and will lead to some development of vaccine resistant strains, but the net effect should still be very beneficial while more fully effective vaccines are being developed.”
The study authors warn, however, that HIV vaccine development needs to consider the consequences of virus evolution.
“This includes continued surveillance of viral genetic diversity, accompanied by vaccine design that limits the mutational pathways available for viral adaptation and subsequent emergence of vaccine-resistant viruses,” they state.
Recently a PhD candidate at our CBNS University of Queensland node, Dr Yiming Ma completed her doctorate studies at the end of 2016. Yiming has just been awarded a prestigious award from one of Europe’s largest specialty chemical company, Evonik Industries.
The Eudragit® Award is given in recognition of an outstanding achievement in academic excellence, scientific rigor and practical relevance. Yiming was presented with the prize for the best paper submitted to Asia/Australasia for the publication entitled The in vivo fate of nanoparticles and nanoparticle-loaded microcapsules after oral administration in mice: evaluation of their potential for colon-specific delivery.
Yiming undertook her PhD in Associate Professor Kris Thurecht’s group. She now works as a senior formulations scientist at WuXi AppTec, a leading global contract research outsourcing provider, serving the worldwide pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device industries, based in Shanghai.
(Caption: Dr Yiming Ma receiving her award by Evonik Technical Director, Greater China Region, Dr Henry Han)
This news item was first published on the NHMRC website.
Australian cancer scientists have established a highly hopeful nanomedicine that could improve treatment for Australia’s deadliest cancer—pancreatic cancer. Most often diagnosed at an advanced stage, this type of cancer has one of the lowest survival rates.
When tested in mice, the nanomedicine decreased growth of tumours by 50 per cent—reducing the spread of pancreatic cancer.
Published in the journal Biomacromolecules, the research provides guidance and fresh optimism for pancreatic cancer patients who—after diagnosis—generally die from the disease within three to six months.
Lead researcher Dr Phoebe Phillips, from UNSW’s Lowy Cancer Research Centre, said it was distressing for her colleagues when they had to inform patients that the best chemotherapy drug available could only extend their life for four months.
‘We recently identified a key promoter of tumour growth, cancer spread and chemo-resistance in pancreatic tumours called βIII-tubulin. Inhibition of this gene resulted in a 50 per cent reduction in tumour growth and reduced the spread of the cancer in mice,’ Dr Phillips explained.
Nanomedicine is the science of developing new healthcare breakthroughs that are designed and constructed on the nanometre scale (the nanoscale). The nanoscale is incredibly small—one nanometre (nm) is one-billionth of a metre, equivalent to the size difference between a marble and the earth.
The issue with intensely targeting this gene is being able to effectively deliver drugs to it.
‘A major reason for the lack of response to chemotherapy is that pancreatic tumours have an extensive scar tissue which makes up to 90 per cent of the tumour,’ Dr Phillips said.
‘This scar causes pancreatic cancer cell chemotherapy resistance and is a physical barrier to chemotherapy drug delivery to tumours.’
This nanomedicine however consists of a state of the art nanoparticle that can package small RNA molecules (RNA is normally an intermediary between DNA and protein) and greatly inhibit the βIII-tubulin gene to overcome the problem.
The researchers have proven that their innovative nanoparticle can deliver doses of small RNAs to pancreatic tumours in mice, despite the presence of scar tissue, and successfully inhibit βIII-tubulin.
This NHMRC and Cancer Council NSW supported research has the possibility to progress new therapies to target the drug-resistant cancer to advance the success rate of ongoing chemotherapies, which could increase survival of the patients and a much better quality of life.
‘The significance of our nanomedicine technology lies in its potential to inhibit any tumour-promoting gene or a cocktail of genes personalised to the genetic profile of a patient’s tumour,’ said Dr Phillips.
‘This work has the potential to develop new therapies to target this drug-resistant cancer and improve the effectiveness of current chemotherapies, which may increase survival and quality of life for pancreatic cancer patients.’
This research collaborates two of Australia’s leading chemists, UNSW Associate Professor Cyrille Boyer and CBNS Director, Professor Tom Davis from Monash University. UNSW Professor Maria Kavallaris and Dr Joshua McCarroll from the Children’s Cancer Institute are also main associates in the research team.
Nghia Truong Phuoc talks about his recent working visit to University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).
Dr Nghia Truong Phuoc recently returned from a six-week working visit to the Hawker Group lab at UCSB who are international partners in the CBNS. The visit in October 2016 was made possible through the CBNS partnership with Craig J. Hawker and The Honourable Geoffrey Connard AM Early Career Researcher travelling award. We spoke to Nghia about his visit and how his experience at the Hawker Group has helped his research and opened up opportunities for collaboration.
Nghia’s research focuses on developing highly functional polymers – used for targeted drug delivery, and patient imaging. He explains that ‘by developing nano-based structures that are in a worm-like shape, similar to the shape of some bacteria, viruses and fungi found in nature, these can be used for improved drug delivery and imaging applications as they have lower potential for rejection by the human body. They can also be designed to target specific cells, such as tumour cells. Nghia is currently building a library of differently shaped nano-structures (see figure below for some examples) which could be used for improved treatments in the future.
The Hawker Group lab is a specialist polymer fabrication lab and Nghia explained that during his tour, he learned valuable synthesis techniques, which can be utilised back at his home lab, at the CBNS Monash node, in Melbourne. These synthesis techniques included integrating fluorinated materials into complex, sequence-controlled polymer-based structures. This has a significant potential benefit for MRI based imaging applications due to fluorine having the characteristics of a high contrast imaging agent. Combining fluorine with highly-defined sequence-controlled polymer structures that mimic biological ones, could result in more detailed and informative imaging for cancer and other disease diagnosis.
Nghia said that his visit to the world-class Hawker Group’s lab was beneficial in many ways. He was warmly welcomed into the group by Dr Athina Anastasaki, attended their regular group meetings and was able to learn a number of different chemistry techniques due to the diversity of the 30-member strong group. In addition, Nghia also had an opportunity to transfer his synthesis techniques to the members of the Hawker group. Three high-impact publications are currently under preparation for publishing as an initial result of his collaborations. In addition, further works are making good progress under the leadership of Dr Nghia Truong Phuoc (Monash node) and Dr Athina Anastasaki (UCSB node).
Nghia hopes to welcome members of the Hawker Group to the Monash node in the near future. We look forward to learning more about the progress of his research as it unfolds.
An expert in cancer research from The Netherlands, Jeroen now holds a post doctorate position at the CBNS where he is one of the leaders in medical imaging.
Through his PhD, Jeroen developed a new type of PET tracer that aids in gaining a more accurate understanding of the location and inner biology of cancer cells.
Jeroen’s research now focuses on combining polymers and radioactive isotopes to transport PET tracers with greater accuracy to cancer cells – in order to provide more detailed, higher contrast images than are currently available to oncologists.
Ultimately, the advancement that Jeroen and his team at the CBNS are working on will allow more precision targeting for the treatment of tumor cells, potentially leading to improved clinical imaging and faster eradication of tumor cells.
Jeroen explained that being able to visit and access the expertise and facilities at The Jason Lewis Lab was an incredible opportunity. Not only is Jason Lewis a world leader in the field of PET imaging, but the lab itself allows faster and more integrated research.
This can occur because of the Memorial Sloan’s rare combination of access to materials labs, radiochemistry facilities, a pre-clinical department and an operational hospital, allowing clinical trials. This perfect infrastructure for the development of new PET imaging technology is a significant benefit that researchers at the CBNS have the potential to access.
Jeroen visited the lab with CBNS colleague, Dr Simon Puttick from The University of Queensland for two weeks during October. Both had the opportunity to expand their networks, forming potential future collaborative partners, not to mention the experience of ‘the big apple’.
We look forward to following the progress of Jeroen’s research into PET imaging.
[Images: Top – Jeroen at Time Square. Bottom – The Jason Lewis Lab (Jason Lewis front right)]
Caruso’s group were featured this week for their innovative work in preserving and transferring knowledge to new colleagues. Cameras, such as GoPros are worn as researchers record, explain and demonstrate their research as they are performing it. This approach was highlighted in Chemistry of Materials this week. Read the full article on the Chemistry of Materials website.
Also published by Caruso’s group this week is a paper that calls for the nanomaterials community to consolidate and to agree on methods of characterisation and minimum levels of analysis of materials.
Almost 100 members of the CBNS came together at the Barossa Valley in December 2016 for our annual workshop. The workshop was an excellent opportunity for members to learn about the latest research taking place, and to create an environment that stimulated collaboration. Researchers of all levels from across our five nodes were present, along with research administration staff.
Highlights of the event were the presentations on our signature projects:
The sublime surroundings at the Barossa Valley provided an ideal, peaceful backdrop for lively discussion around showcasing our research and emerging opportunities for collaboration across the centre. As well as highlighting important research, there were valuable contributions from experienced members of the centre on working with industry and applying for a range of grants and funding options. The workshop also included recognition of members for the most significant publication of 2016, Science by Design competition, best presentation at the workshop and best poster. Congratulations once again to the following awardees:
Most significant publication of 2016
Science by Design
Best oral presentation
The workshop provided an opportunity for the CBNS Education Committee to receive feedback for events and training that will take place during 2017. The committee’s programme during 2016 was positively received by members at the workshop. This has resulted in a range of beneficial activities that not only build the capacity of members of the CBNS, but also provide a platform to demonstrate the centre’s important work to the public.
We look forward to hearing about the fruitful collaboration that will ensue at our next Annual Workshop, taking place 25 – 27 October in Queensland.
Professor Mark Kendall, CBNS Chief Investigator from the University of Queensland node was awarded the Dr John Dixon Hughes Medal for Medical Research Innovation last week. The award took place in Sydney, where the National Foundation for Medical Research and Innovation (NFMRI) announced joint winners and new 2017 grant recipients. In the presence of industry, business and research experts, successful researchers from across the country received funding to support the advancement of their innovations.
The Medal, developed in honour of Dr John Dixon Hughes OAM (NFMRI’s longest standing Trustee) to showcase and celebrate the achievements of Australia’s recent biomedical research innovators, entails a $50,000 prize in the form of a research grant for each recipient and was awarded to both:
Prof. Mark Kendall from the University of Queensland, and A/Prof Michelle McIntosh from Monash University.
Dr John Dixon Hughes OAM said “that the nominations were simply of exceptionally high calibre, demonstrating the sector’s progress and improvement of innovation commercialisation.” He noted that the Foundation’s research advisory committee felt it was impossible to compare and decide between the final two finalists and hence the Board made the decision to award two medals: one to Professor Mark Kendall, for his successes with the Vaxxas nanopatch vaccine delivery system; and one to A/Prof Michelle McIntosh for the development of an inhalable form of oxytocin to prevent postpartum haemorrhage in women from resource-poor settings.
NFMRI CEO, Dr Noel Chambers, noted that innovations from both Medal recipients were rapidly advancing to improve the lives of many vulnerable people globally and that the Foundation was excited to be able to provide nearly $1.7 million dollars in existing and new funding for research advancing medical innovations of tomorrow.
Founded almost 40 years ago, NFMRI’s primary objective is to support innovative areas of research to help benefit mankind through the prevention or eradication of diseases. By focusing on advancing innovations and enabling collaborations, the Foundation aims to address the critical gaps that prevent industry uptake to bring diagnostics, devices, vaccines, tools and medicines into the hands of those in need in the community. The Foundation seeks to partner with researchers and donors to identify, evaluate and support innovative quality research projects with identified impact objectives. NFMRI’s culture is one where we look to make a social investment in medical research. By partnering with researchers to provide support and knowledge, we aim to maximise the social returns from our grants.
The membership of the 2017 ARC College of Experts has been announced and two CBNS experts have been included:
To support the advancement of knowledge and contribute to national innovation, the ARC engages an ARC College of Experts to play a key role in identifying research excellence, moderating external assessments and recommending fundable proposals. It also assists the ARC in recruiting and assigning assessors and in implementing peer review reforms in established and emerging disciplines as well as interdisciplinary areas.
Its members are experts of international standing drawn from the Australian research community: from higher education, industry and public sector research organisations. ARC College of Experts nominations are approved by the ARC CEO for appointments of one to three years.
Members of the ARC College of Experts assess and rank ARC grant applications submitted under the National Competitive Grants Program, make funding recommendations to the ARC and provide strategic advice to the ARC on emerging disciplines and cross-disciplinary developments.
Congratulations Pall and Nicolas!
CBNS Director, Professor Tom Davis has been awarded the Batteard-Jordan Australian Polymer Medal. The award took place at the 36th Australasian Polymer Symposium, taking place this week at the picturesque costal town of Lorne, Victoria. Tom also delivered the opening plenary at the symposium, where there is a strong representation of CBNS staff and student researchers present.
The Batteard-Jordan Australian Polymer Medal, the highest award of the Polymer Division, is awarded for outstanding achievement in Polymer Science in Australia. It has only been awarded ten times since 1974. It was awarded to Tom for his significant contribution to the Australian polymer science community.
Tom is a ARC Laureate Fellow and a world- leading polymer scientist/nanotechnologist. He has published more than 450 refereed papers and his work has been cited more than 27,000 times. Tom’s scientific contributions have embraced polymerization kinetics, nanostructured films, nanoparticles, protein conjugates, nanoparticle enhanced bio-imaging, gene delivery and targeted therapeutics and his current emphasis is on designing materials to interact at the bio-nano interface.
The Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers website names more than 3,000 researchers with global influence and impact. The list is based on publication and citation figures drawn from Essential Science IndicatorsSM (ESI), a component of the Web of Science™. Among its assorted features and metrics, ESI tracks papers published in the last decade that by citations rank in the top 1% for their respective years of publication in each of 22 main subject fields.
Chris Porter is Chief Investigator, and Delivery Systems Theme Leader at the CBNS. His research has focused on understanding and quantifying drug absorption, distribution and elimination profiles and on developing the models and techniques to probe these interactions. A major interest has been the issues and problems surrounding the absorption of poorly water soluble, highly lipophilic drugs and in particular the use of lipid based delivery systems and microemulsions to enhance oral bioavailability and stimulate lymphatic transport. More recently, his interests have expanded into the mechanisms of cellular transport of lipophilic drugs and the potential utility of dendrimers as drug delivery systems.
On the 27 October the Hon Sussan Ley announced the NHMRC fellowships and early career fellowships.
CBNS CI Prof Maria Kavallaris has been awarded a NHMRC research fellowship worth $763,845, titled “Precision nanomedicine-based cancer therapeutics”.
UniSA postdoctoral researcher, Dr Maria Alba-Martin has been awarded an NHMRC early career fellowship (Australia) worth $318,768, titled “Topical drug delivery based on porous silicon nanoneedles”.
CBNS Director Professor Tom Davis, in collaboration with Partner Investigator Professor David Haddleton and their research teams, have reported in Nature Chemistry a new methodology to rapidly synthesise large quantities of polymers.
The research teams based at Monash and Warwick Universities, describe in the article the advantages of the new method of creating polymers, “This approach is environmentally friendly, fully translatable to industry and thus represents a significant advance in the development of complex macromolecule synthesis”
On 9 November, Chief Investigator, Professor Mark Kendall won the 2016 CSL Young Florey Medal. The award was received for Mark’s development of the Nanopatch: a new vaccine delivery technology that’s painless, uses a fraction of the dose, puts the vaccine just under the skin, and doesn’t require refrigeration.
Human trials of Mark’s Nanopatch are underway in Australia, and the concept has broad patent coverage. It’s being supported by the World Health Organisation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Merck.
The CSL Young Florey Medal is awarded to an Australian biomedical researcher for significant early career achievements in biomedical science and/or human health advancement for research conducted primarily in Australia. In addition to the medal, the award currently carries a prize of $25,000 due to the generous support of CSL Limited.
The Young Florey Medal was first awarded in 2014 by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, and is designed to complement the biennial CSL Florey Medal which recognises career achievement. The medals were named in honour of the Australian Nobel Prize-winning scientist, Sir Howard Florey, who developed penicillin.
On the 21 October, CI Professor Ben Boyd was awarded the Faculty Research Award at the annual Monash University, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Research and Educational Excellence Awards.
At the same award ceremony, Dr Khay Fong from Professor Boyd’s group, was awarded the Early Career Researcher Award. This award leads to the nomination of Khay for the Monash ‘Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research by an Early Career Researcher’.
This is the second year that this prestigious award has been awarded to CBNS members. Last year this award was given to Professor Nigel Bunnett. Professor Bunnett’s postdoctoral fellow Dr Tina Marie Lieu was awarded the Early Career Researcher Award in the same year.
Congratulations Ben and Khay on your awards.
On 14 October, CBNS PhD student Dr David Chang from the UNSW node, received a Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) prize at the 67th Annual Scientific Meeting of the College. The College awards research prizes and grants to members and students to foster a culture of research and support research projects.
The purpose of the RANZCR research prizes and grants is to provide research experience for Fellows, Educational Affiliates and Student members in both radiology and radiation oncology.
David, who completed a medical degree before returning to study as a PhD student with Prof Maria Kavallaris, was awarded the Faculty of Radiation Oncology Bourne and Langlands Prize. This annually awarded grant, provide candidates with a greater incentive for excellence, and a sense of achievement. The prize is only awarded in the case of an exceptional trainee research requirement manuscript.
David’s paper that was submitted for the prize was entitled ‘Risk factors for radiotherapy incidents and impact of an online electronic reporting system.
UNSW node leader Prof Justin Gooding, and collaborators have discovered that nanoparticles shaped like rods and worms are the best shape for drug delivery to the centre of a cell. This new study published in Nature Nanotechnology could lead to better design of drug delivery in the nanoscale.
Using pair correlation microscopy, the team of researchers were able to show that different shaped polymer nanoparticles moved across the various barriers in the cell at different rates. The rods and worm shaped nanoparticles were concluded to be the most efficient at delivering the drugs across the major cell barriers.
The study was led by chemists, engineers, and medical researchers from UNSW in a collaboration between the CBNS and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging.
“The impact for the field is huge,” says Scientia Professor Justin Gooding from UNSW and Node leader of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Bio-Nano Science. “It gives us the ability to look inside the cell, see what the particles are doing, and design them to do exactly what we want them to do.”
“And this isn’t just thanks to the microscope, but the information and data we can extract from the new analysis procedures we’ve developed. If other research groups can learn how to do this analysis, they can use the equipment already in their labs and get started tomorrow,” says Professor Gooding. “People are going to see, suddenly, that they can get all sorts of new information about their particles.”
The researchers will soon be collaborating with CBNS CI Dr John McGhee from UNSW Art & Design, who combines scientific data, microscopy images, and computer generated animation to create virtual reality renderings of the inside of human cells and blood vessels. More of John’s work can be seen in a New Scientist article earlier this year, and is one of the CBNS strategic projects Journey to the Centre of the Cell.
Image: For nanoparticles to carry drugs to their target site (the cytoplasm (green shade) or the nucleus (light blue shade) in the case of chemotherapeutics that target DNA (dark blue lines)) they must first overcome various cellular barriers before releasing the drug via a labile coupling chemistry. It is thus likely that the intracellular trafficking route determines the site of drug release and the overall efficiency of the chemotherapeutics. A) The first cellular barrier for a drug-carrying nanoparticle is the plasma membrane. Cellular uptake is often facilitated by endocytosis, which delivers nanoparticles into the endosomal system. B) Nanoparticles that entered the cell via endocytosis are first contained within Rab5-positive (dark green ovals) early endosomes (EE), from which they can be transferred to other endosomes such as Rab7-positive (orange ovals) late endosomes (LE). Thus the second cellular barrier nanoparticles must overcome is escape from the endosomal system into the cytoplasm. C) For nuclear access, nanoparticles must also overcome the nuclear envelope via the Nuclear Pore Complex (NPC) (turquoise circles). The NPC has two key transport characteristics: it forms a physical barrier of defined permeability and provides biochemical selectivity by facilitating the transport of selected macromolecules across the nuclear envelope.
CBNS CI Professor Maria Kavallaris was inducted on 6th October , as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS). The induction took place at the AAHMS second Annual Scientific Meeting at the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane.
Maria was among 50 new Fellows selected through ordinary election, bringing the total Fellowship to 272. New Fellows are drawn from all states and territories of Australia, and from all aspects of health and medical science across clinical practice and allied health care, with representation from basic translational and clinical research, health economics, general practice and public health.
Professor Ian Frazer, President of the Academy, said, “I am delighted on behalf of the Academy council to welcome the new Fellows to the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences this evening. Their election as Fellows of the Academy will help to ensure that the Academy can promote use of the best in research-informed health care for all Australians.”
CBNS Chief Investigator Prof Maria Kavallaris, was recently an invited speaker at the Women in STEM Leadership Summit 2016 held in Sydney.
Maria presented a case study entitled “Leadership effectiveness and influencing culture”. Drawing on her professional experiences, she discussed:
This event was organised in support of the Australian government’s commitment of $13 million over the next five years to encourage more women to embark on and remain in a career in STEM. The Women in STEM Leadership Summit 2016 provides the opportunity to hear from international and Australian pre-eminent thinkers and accomplished STEM leaders, who will share their experiences to inspire and offer advice to help implement a solid future for female leaders in STEM.
Image (above): Star-POEGMA polymers as delivery vehicles for siRNA to pancreatic tumours
CBNS Director Prof Tom Davis and Chief Investigator Prof Maria Kavallaris are part of a research collaboration that has developed a new delivery system for gene silencing drugs to treat pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is ranked as the fourth leading cause of cancer related deaths in Western society.
Results have shown that, when tested on mice, there was a 50% reduction in tumour growth, and a reduction in the spread of pancreatic cancer.
With continued development this promising research can be used not just for pancreatic tumours, but also other solid type such as liver, ovarian, prostate and breast cancer.
The findings have been published in the journal Biomacromolecules “A Rationally Optimized Nanoparticle System for the Delivery of RNA Interference Therapeutics into Pancreatic Tumours in Vivo”.
Image (above): PhD student Taryn Guinan with the testing device
University of South Australia Node Leader, Prof Nico Voelcker and his research team have developed a new drug testing technology, using mouth swabs and fingerprint tests to identify illicit drugs in saliva and sweat molecules.
The ‘lab-on-a-chip’ technology detects different drug classes including cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA, benzodiazepines and opiates.
Current police drug testing can identify a substance in the system but must go to a laboratory for further testing for more information. Prof Voelcker’s system’s analysis is both rapid, sensitive and provides on the spot confirmation of the presence of drugs.
Prof Voelcker says “We know our technology works, we believe in it, and we look forward to it helping police on the beat and employers who need to monitor for illicit drugs in the workplace such as mining companies, airlines and trucking companies.
“The technology could also be applied beyond roadside or workplace testing to areas such as testing of elite athletes, security screening, pharmacology, and the monitoring of compliance with methadone programs.”
Professor Voelcker said the “blood tests were also quite invasive, urine tests could be adulterated and both samples could be lost or mixed up with another competitor’s”.
Partners on the project include the Australian Federal Police, SA Police, NSW Police, Forensic Science South Australia and the former National Institute of Forensic Science. Once further developed this technology could transform police and workplace drug testing.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will give a grant of $224,437 to the University of South Australia and the CBNS to change the way testing is done.
A research breakthrough in the delivery of drugs that bypass the liver has been patented by CBNS Chief Investigator Prof Chris Porter and his team of researchers. Making use of a natural nanoscale lipid as a transport system, the drug is delivered from the gut through the lymphatic system, and straight into the blood stream.
This system allows more of the drug to be delivered to the place needed without being broken down by the liver before delivery. This research has been published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition. In this study the system has been tested on testosterone in animal models. However Professor Porter said, “The technology has the potential to be used for a range of drugs that struggle to get through the liver and into circulation, as well as for drugs targeted to the lymphatic system.”
More information on the research can be viewed on the Science daily website.
Image (right): Selective transport of drug through the intestinal lymph vessels and subsequent release.
Congratulations to all the winners and finalists of 2016 Eureka Prizes, announced at last night’s gala.
The CBNS extends a particular congrats to Professor Gordon Wallace, a CBNS Governance Board member and Director of the ARC CoE for Electromaterials Science, who won the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science.
Our congratulations also to the ‘Kidney in a dish’ team, from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, who won the UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research. CBNS CI, Professor Rob Parton was a contributor to this research which was published last year in Nature. More information about this research is available on our website.
Each of the cells that make up the organs of our bodies is enclosed in a plasma membrane, a complex sheet made up of lipids and proteins. The plasma membrane plays a crucial role in detecting signals for growth or in taking nutrients up into the cell in a process termed endocytosis. The aim of this study, involving Professor Rob Parton and Charles Ferguson of the UQ node of the CBNS, and led by Professor Marino Zerial and Professor Stephan Grill from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, was to determine how a vesicle, which has pinched off from the plasma membrane during endocytosis, finds its destination in the cell, an organelle called an endosome. This process uses a protein called Rab5, a small protein that can switch between active and inactive forms, and a long filamentous protein, called EEA1.
Rob and his team at the Institute for Molecular Biology at UQ, showed using high resolution electron microscopy that EEA1 proteins form a dense layer of filaments – a hairy coat – which extends out from the surface of endosomes. The latest study, published in Nature, is the result of a long-standing collaboration between the Parton and Zerial groups. The paper, An endosomal tether undergoes an entropic collapse to bring vesicles together, shows that vesicles covered in active Rab5 bind to the hairy EEA1 coat. This triggers the individual EEA1 filaments to change their conformation – instead of being extended they become flexible, generating an entropic collapse force. This force allows the vesicle to reach the surface of the endosome and fuse with its membrane. This may be a universal mechanism which makes sure that vesicles find the right destination within the cell and that they deliver their contents efficiently to their targets. But the entropic collapse may also be a general mechanism of many cellular proteins that can store energy in their conformation and release it upon a trigger.
Image: Capture of a vesicle by an endosome by the tethering factor EEA1 binding Rab5. Active Rab5 (shiny blue particles) induces a change in flexibility of EEA1 (green filaments) generating an entropic collapse force that pulls the vesicle toward the target membrane to dock and fuse. For further details see Murray et al, Nature 2016. Image by Mario Avellaneda.
Monash node leader Dr Angus Johnston was interviewed on 774 ABC Melbourne’s radio show ‘Breakfast with Red Symons‘ on 10 August.
The radio interview discussed the CBNS ‘Science in the Cinema’ event. This event, co-hosted with the Doherty Institute, was a screening of the movie Contagion and a panel discussion about the real science behind the movie. This free outreach event was part of the National Science Week program. Angus was a member of the panel, as well as CBNS CI Associate Professor Matthew Kearnes, and staff from the Doherty Institute.
The interview with Angus is available for you to listen to.
Emily Pilkington, a CBNS PhD candidate at Monash University, has been awarded an Australian Bicentennial Scholarship from King’s College London.
Each year the Australian Bicentennial Scholarships and Fellowships Trust invites applications from Australian postgraduate students or academic staff members for Australian Bicentennial Scholarships and Fellowships tenable in the United Kingdom.
Emily, will be spending one year of her PhD studying at Prof Tom Davis’s lab at the University of Warwick and will be using this scholarship fund to help fund her time in the UK.
Emily said about the scholarship, “I’m the first Monash-Warwick PhD student from MIPS, so I’m very grateful for this scholarship, which will help me to pursue my research in the UK starting next year. I really encourage other students to consider an overseas component in their studies – it’s a fantastic opportunity to accelerate your personal development and career!”
More information about the scholarships are available from the King’s College London website.
Presented annually since 1990, the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of:
The work of CBNS researchers has resulted in them, or their collaborators, being finalists in the following categories:
University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers
CBNS Director, Professor Tom Davis, Monash University
Professor Tom Davis creates highly productive and open research environments, establishing research centres as incubators of talent. He strongly believes in ‘living’ mentoring by sharing workspace with his colleagues and has mentored more than 80 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers over a 25-year career.
UNSW Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research
Including CBNS CI Professor Stephen Kent, Peter Doherty Institute, The University of Melbourne; and Professor Miles Davenport, Dr Deborah Cromer, Dr Mykola Pinkevych and, Dr David Khoury, Kirby Institute, UNSW; and Dr Ashraful Haque, QIMR Berghofer Institute
The Infection Analytics Program Group integrates mathematicians, computer scientists and physicists, in close collaboration with experimental scientists and clinicians, to develop a novel understanding of the ‘mathematics of infection’. The team has used these insights to design and optimise treatment and vaccination for major infectious diseases.
CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science
CBNS Governance Board member, Professor Gordon Wallace, ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, University of Wollongong
Professor Gordon Wallace is an internationally renowned researcher in the field of electromaterials science and has cultivated a research vision in the area of ‘intelligent polymers’. Through his leadership and ability to inspire, his collaborative team has pioneered the use of nanotechnology and additive fabrication in renewable energy and medical science.
UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research
Kidney in a Dish, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Kidney disease affects one in 10 Australians, with kidney failure increasing at six percent per annum. Recognising the urgent need for new treatment options the team led by Professor Melissa Little and Dr Minoru Takasato at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute have recreated human kidney tissue from stem cells, opening the door to disease modelling, drug screening, and ultimately replacement organs.
Finalists are judged by a panel of eminent and qualified individuals, whose contribution of expertise and time helps support the credibility of the Eureka Prizes. The Eureka Prizes are considered the most comprehensive national science awards in Australia.
On the 31 August the category winners will be announced at the gala award dinner. Congratulations to all the finalists.
The CBNS project Journey to the Centre of the Cell was featured in New Scientist this month. The project, involving a multidisciplinary team, from three of our University nodes, was captured in the article ‘Virtual reality lets you stroll around a breast cancer cell’.
Chief investigator (CI) Dr John McGhee and Mr John Bailey of the University of New South Wales node, have used high-resolution electron-microscope data to reconstruct a real-life cancer cell from a human breast, creating a three-dimensional virtual reality.
Students from Trinity Grammar School interacting with VR nanoparticles at the International Nanomedicine conference co-hosted by the CBNS.
You can see more next month on ABC Catalyst, when they will be featuring our work during National Science Week. Episode airs at 8pm Tuesday 16 August.
CBNS Director Tom Davis (Monash University), in collaboration with researchers from, the University of Melbourne, UNSW, Shanghai University, and the University of Warwick, have provided a comprehensive summary of strategies for making star polymers.
Figure: Illustration of various types of star polymers classified by (a) composition and sequence distribution of the arm polymer, (b) difference in arm species, (c) core structure, and (d) functional placement.
CBNS Director Tom Davis (Monash University), in collaboration with researchers from the University of Melbourne, UNSW, Shanghai University, and the University of Warwick, have provided a comprehensive summary of strategies for making star polymers, published recently in the high impact journal Chemical Reviews.
The researchers reviewed the latest developments in the making and characterisation methods of star macromolecules, then presented emerging applications and current commercial use of star-shaped polymers.
The aim of the paper is to promote star polymer research, generate new research projects, and provide contemporary perspectives on chemical innovation that may speed up new star nanomaterials getting to the marketplace.
The authors conclude “It is envisioned that in the not-to-distant future, star polymers will play a significant role in many areas of materials science and nanotechnologies in both academic and industrial settings.”
This work was featured on the cover of the June 22 issue of Chemical Reviews.
Jing M. Ren, Thomas G. McKenzie, Qiang Fu, Edgar H. H. Wong, Jiangtao Xu, Zesheng An, Sivaprakash Shanmugam, Thomas P. Davis, Cyrille Boyer, and Greg G. Qiao
Chemical Reviews 2016 116 (12), 6743-6836
Several University of Melbourne CBNS researchers undertook experiments while skydiving from 14,000 feet above Melbourne. The intention was to release metal and organic particles into a solution using a syringe where they would mix and form crystals in the temporary low-gravity generated by free-falling. This allowed them to identify how gravity influences the formation of crystals in metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), which are currently a key research area for CBNS Deputy Director Frank Caruso’s NIMS group. After the jump a portable centrifuge on the ground helped stabilise the crystal growth for measurement. The final results showed that high gravitation causes smaller MOF crystals to form than at low gravity. Those involved in the high-altitude experiment were CBNS PhD students Mattias Björnmalm, Matt Faria and Junling Guo, along with Dr Fabio Lisi from the School of Chemistry at the University of Melbourne. Their research efforts contributed to a paper published in the Wiley journal European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry, reported in ABC News online (with ABC News 24 Twitter video), and the Melbourne-based Herald-Sun newspaper.
Their jump and an explanation of why they did it was captured on video.
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/sltCICJYLEM” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Image (above): Low gravity was found to increase crystal size. On the left is the crystal formation of a Metal-Organic Framework grown at normal gravity. On the right is the same MOF grown at low gravity generated by skydiving. Picture: Dr Joseph Richardson et. al.
Image (below): Matthias Björnmalm, holding his sample whilst skydiving.
On Wednesday 6 July UNSW held a forum on the future of chemistry. The forum panel discussed:
The scientific panel included CBNS node leader, Justin Gooding (Deputy Head School of Chemistry and Professor at UNSW, co-chair of the Australian Nanomedicine Centre and ARC Laureate Fellow), and fellow panel members:
CBNS CI Associate Professor Pall Thordarson, School of Chemistry, UNSW served as MC.
The evening was attended by 80 members of the public. The discussion covered many topics including:
Finally the audience felt it was important to be more inclusive in research. Chemistry should be more cross disciplinary and include community engagement when defining new projects.
The Forum was sponsored by the CBNS, along with Angewandte Chemie International Edition and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.
Prof Justin Gooding and his group at our UNSW node set out to create a disposable sunburn sensor that is inexpensive, is composed entirely of safe and benign materials, and can be easily calibrated to take into account different skin tones and SPFs of sunscreens that are applied on the skin.
Most currently available UV sensors require high-tech gadgets to operate, such as smartphones or wearable devices. Recently, single-use, disposable sunburn sensors have come onto the market. Some of these sensors, however, use substances that are potentially harmful to people or the environment. Others are only good for specific skin tones. CBNS Sensors theme leader, Prof Justin Gooding and his group at our UNSW node set out to create a disposable sunburn sensor that is inexpensive, is composed entirely of safe and benign materials, and can be easily calibrated to take into account different skin tones and SPFs of sunscreens that are applied on the skin.
The group created a sun-exposure sensor by inkjet printing titanium dioxide, a non-toxic and inexpensive compound, and a food dye on paper. When enough UV radiation hits the sensor, titanium dioxide causes the dye to change colour. In practice this visual indication would then alert the wearer to apply more sunscreen, to avoid sunburn.
The open access paper describing the research is available on the ACS Sensors website.
On 23 May 2016, the Australian Academy of Science announced the election of 21 new Fellows for their outstanding contributions to science and scientific research. CBNS Chief Investigator Professor Justin Gooding is one of the new Fellows. The fellowship citation notes Justin’s work using chemistry to modify surfaces at the molecular level to enable them to specifically recognise biochemical molecules and to transfer electrons with them in biological fluids.
Prof Gooding joins other CBNS members as Fellows of the AAS:
On Wednesday 25 May CBNS postdoctoral researcher, Dr Stephen Parker spoke at the Harold Park Hotel in Sydney as part of 2016 Pint of Science festival. His talk was entitled ‘Isolating Single Cells to Understand Disease’.
The Pint of Science festival aims to “deliver interesting, fun, relevant talks on the latest science research in an accessible format to the public – all in the pub! We want to provide a platform which allows people to discuss research with the people who carry it out. It is run by volunteers and was established by a community of postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in 2012. The main festival takes place annually over three days in the month of May simultaneously in pubs across the world.”
Stephen Parker completed his PhD with Scientia Professor Justin Gooding at the University of New South Wales. He has since taken up a position as an early career researcher within the Gooding group. In 2014, during his time as a PhD student, Stephen was awarded a Royal Society of New South Wales Scholarship.
Researchers from the CBNS have been successful in the latest rounds of ARC grant outcomes.
Over $1.3 million has been awarded across four grants that CBNS researchers led or were co-investigators on:
Full details of current Linkage project grant outcomes are available on the ARC website.
Dr Adam Martin a CBNS early career researcher and NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellow, was featured on Channel Nine news in Sydney, by health reporter Gabriella Rogers. The Nine News report, shows links that have been discovered between iron and Alzheimer’s in research that Adam is working on. Earlier this year, Adam was one of two CBNS early career researchers that was awarded a NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellowship.
As part of their Centenary celebration, CSL has announced a $25 million Centenary Fellowship program.
The Fellowship selection committee will be chaired by eminent molecular biologist, Prof Ashley Dunn.
Two five-year fellowships will be awarded each calendar year, for ten years. The total value of each award will be $1.25 million, paid in annual instalments of $250,000 to the employing institute.
Applications for the first two CSL Centenary Fellowships (to commence 1 January 2017) are now open.
For further information about the program and information on how to apply please visit the CSL website.
The CBNS annual report 2015 has been published.
The report presents our research program, including the strategic projects. It captures the highlights of our various engagement activities and achievements.
The 2015 Annual Report, along with the previous year’s report can be found on the Annual Reports section of our website.
The “Introduction to the Australian Synchrotron” day-long workshop was run by the CBNS on Monday, 18 April 2016. It was held onsite at the Australian Synchrotron, Melbourne, and included a welcome from Prof Michael James, the Head of Science, plus talks from various beamline staff. Various local and interstate CBNS researchers with synchrotron experience also attended and presented.
Each beamline was introduced, its capabilities explored and some examples of the cutting edge research being conducted were highlighted. Prof Ben Boyd (from Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS)) and Dr Adam Martin (from UNSW), gave interesting presentations on their research that had benefited from synchrotron-based techniques. The day was rounded out with Dr Stephen Mudie from the Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) beamline providing the attendees with advice on how to strengthen proposals so as to improve their applications for securing beam equipment time.
Prof James is pictured below welcoming the attendees.
CBNS researchers at three of our nodes, the University of Melbourne, Monash University and the University of Queensland, have been collaborating to functionalise caveospheres (human caveolin-1 nanoparticles), with monoclonal antibodies.
The team of PhD students, postdocs and CIs investigated the targeting of CD4+ T cells and CD20+ B cells in human blood. The studies found an increase in binding to targeted immune cells. Using caveosphere nanoparticles for immune cell targeting could lead to the development of advanced immunotherapeutics and vaccines.
Dr Adam Martin, a NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Fellow from the University of New South Wales and member of CBNS, has recently been featured in a UNSW Science video detailing how to make a peptide hydrogel.
In the video, Dr Martin details three different ways to make a self-supporting peptide hydrogel, which have potential uses in tissue culture and drug delivery.
“Making hydrogels is sometimes seen as a bit of a complicated or involved process”, said Dr Martin “and in this video we show three straightforward ways to make these materials.”
Dr Martin is currently using his hydrogels as three-dimensional neural cell culture materials to monitor the early stage progression of Alzheimer’s disease, with a view towards developing new diagnostic strategies.
Scientists from Clemson University, University of Melbourne, St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, and University of Michigan came together with CBNS to collaborate on an interdisciplinary project. The subsequent findings have been accepted for publication in Small. The paper has been highlighted in the current issue of Pancreatic Cell News.
Ding research Laboratory consolidated this ongoing research collaboration, when Assistant Professor Ding came to Australia earlier this year as an invited speaker at the Bio-nano computer simulation and modelling workshop hosted by the Centre of Excellence at the Monash University node.
Diagram Mr. Bo Wang, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Clemson University
Photo credit: Quentin Jones/UNSW
Chief Investigator Dr John McGhee has been included in the UNSW “20 Rising Stars list”. Dr McGhee is the is the Director of the 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab and deputy director of the National Institute for Experimental Arts at UNSW.
While doctors can diagnose diseases, medical information is often difficult to communicate to patients. Artist John McGhee is using gaming technology to take patients on virtual tours through their bodies, to see their illnesses in 3D.
Dr McGhee and his team are developing these virtual reality tours using the latest in animation technology from the film and video game industries, and the technology is being trialled in a clinical setting.
Dr McGhee is working with the Children’s Cancer Institute and the CBNS to improve communication to younger patients. The animations are about cellular activity in the body, which may be causing the formation and growth of tumours.
In these animations, colour and texture are used to reinforce the young patients’ understanding and to control their emotional reaction. The elements can be altered according to the age of the patient.
For Dr McGhee, the objective is to take advantage of existing and emerging technologies to improve health care, hasten recoveries and optimise outcomes.
The Faraday Medal is currently awarded annually by the Electrochemistry Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) to an electrochemist working outside the UK, in recognition of their outstanding original contributions and innovation in any field of electrochemistry.
The Medal is presented at the annual UK Electrochem meeting, in August. The meeting will also feature a plenary lecture from Prof Gooding.
The medal itself is made from sterling silver. It is 2 inches in diameter and the front face depicts a bust of Michael Faraday. On the obverse face there is a cyclic voltammogram with the winner’s name engraved underneath. The Medal was first awarded in 1977 but in the early years it was not awarded every year.
With over 50,000 members and an international publishing and knowledge business the RSC are the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists, supporting and representing their members and bringing together chemical scientists from all over the world.
Royal Charter was granted in 1980 and states that the object for which they are constituted is “the general advancement of chemical science and its application and for that purpose:
Justin says “It is an incredible honour to be listed in such company. David Rand and Alan Bond are the other Australians on the list [of recipients]. So as a small nation we have done well.”
A link to further information about the Faraday medal and a list of recipients: visit the link here
Chief Investigator Professor Maria Kavallaris has been recognised as one of ‘The Knowledge Nation 100’ – Australia’s top 100 “visionaries, intellects, founders and game changers” who will help shape the country’s future prosperity.
The inaugural Knowledge Nation 100 includes “visionaries, intellects, founders and game changers” who will help shape the country’s future prosperity. The list, consisting of 10 recipients across 10 categories, was revealed at a lunch in Sydney attended by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
The group was chosen by the Knowledge Society, guided by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb and senior commentators from The Australian newspaper, which published the full list in its The Deal magazine.
“Australia’s greatest assets are not those under the ground but the men and women walking on top of it,” Prime Minister Turnbull said.
“If we are to achieve our potential as a nation and remain a prosperous economy, we must put innovation at the heart of everything we do.”
Maria was recognised in the STEM Heroes category, for her innovative work in cancer biology. She uses nanotechnology to develop drugs that can be delivered directly to tumour cells, avoiding healthy cells. Further information about Maria and the other STEM Heroes is available in The Australian: visit the link here
Professor Maria Kavallaris‘ other roles include, the co-director of UNSW’s Australian Centre for NanoMedicine and Program Head at the Children’s Cancer Institute. Maria is using nanotechnology to deliver drugs and gene-silencing therapies directly to cancer cells.
Maria was also recognised in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac Australia’s 100 Women of Influence Awards for 2015 for more on this story visit the link here.
Each year Thomson Reuters compiles a list of the most highly cited researchers. The academics, including Prof Chris Porter, represent some of world’s most influential scientific minds. In 2015 approximately 3,000 researchers worldwide earned this distinction by writing the greatest number of reports officially designated by Essential Science Indicators as Highly Cited Papers — ranking among the top 1% most cited for their subject field and year of publication, earning them the mark of exceptional impact.
Congratulations Chris on this great achievement.
Prof Rob Parton, UQ, has been collaborating with the group of Prof Melissa Little at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, to characterise kidney organoids, generated by the differentiation of human stem cells in vitro.
This work, funded by the NHMRC, was published in October in Nature, and was featured on the issue cover. Congratulations Rob on the research collaboration and the Nature paper.
Kidney organoids from human iPS cells contain multiple lineages and model human nephrogenesis.
Takasato M, Er PX, Chiu HS, Maier B, Baillie GJ, Ferguson C, Parton RG, Wolvetang EJ, Roost MS, Chuva de Sousa Lopes SM, Little MH.
Nature. 2015, 526, 564–568, Oct 7. doi: 10.1038/nature15695.
Their paper “Engineering Poly(ethylene glycol) Particles for Improved Biodistribution” was published in ACS Nano. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nn5061578”
This award was assessed by the CBNS Chief Investigators from a shortlist of nominated papers. The judging criteria was: quality and importance of the research; impact of the journal; involvement of multiple CIs, indicating collaboration across the CBNS; and a CBNS researcher is the lead author of the paper.
More information about the event held at Lorne on 2nd to 4th December here
Congratulations to Dr Nick Ariotti from the University of Queensland for being awarded best presentation at 2015 CBNS Workshop.
His presentation entitled “3View scanning electron microscopy for the three dimensional imaging of cells and animals”.
More information about the event held at Lorne on 2nd to 4th December here.
Congratulations to Ms Anna Gemmell from the University of Queensland for being awarded best poster of 2015.
Her poster was entitled “Investigating the role of micelle size for enhanced tumour delivery”.
A long standing collaboration between MIPS scientists and the Melbourne-based biotechnology company Starpharma reached a significant commercialisation milestone with the announcement by Starpharma of a major licencing deal with the global pharmaceutical company Astra Zeneca. MIPS scientists and our Centre CI’s Chris Porter and Ben Boyd and collaborator Lisa Kaminskas have been working with Starpharma for more than 10 years to support the development of novel dendrimer based nanomedicines and are co-inventors on some of Starpharma’s DEP® drug delivery patents.
Professor Bill Charman, Director of the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences added ‘This is yet another outstanding example of the power of deep and enduring academic-industrial collaborations within the Australian biotechnology ecosystem – focused on translation of science in areas of unmet medical need. Alongside the recently funded ARC Centre of Excellence in Bio Nano Science and Technology, this outcome highlights Monash’s commitment to Nanoscience and progress towards the development of next generation Nanomedicines‘.
For more on this story, link here
CBNS Deputy Director Prof. Frank Caruso delivered the 13th Prof. J.W. McBain Memorial Lecture in Pune, India, in November for the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-National Chemical Laboratory. His presentation was titled “Advanced particle design for therapeutic delivery by interfacing materials science and biology”.
On 9 November 2015, the Minister for Health Sussan Ley announced $630 million in NHRMC funding to support 836 new research grants.
This included Dr Anna Cifuentes-Rius, one of our Postdoctoral researchers from the Future Industries Institute, University of South Australia. Anna has developed a novel porous silicon nanocarrier platform with tuneable shape that can efficiently deliver chemotherapy drugs to cancer cells. She will undertake her three-year Peter Doherty Biomedical ECF at the University of South Australia in 2016. Anna received $314,644 for her three-year project entitled: “Next-generation glioblastoma multiforme therapies based on multistage delivery nanovectors“.
On 9 November 2015, the Minister for Health Sussan Ley announced $630 million in NHRMC funding to support 836 new research grants.
This included Professor Stephen Kent, one of our Chief Investigators. Professor Kent trained as an infectious diseases physician, immunologist and HIV vaccine scientist in Melbourne and the USA. As a physician-scientist he is national leader in developing and testing HIV vaccines, and is internationally recognised in this important field. He developed and manages a biologically secure facility to test promising HIV vaccines, one of very few in the Southern hemisphere. Stephen received $1,109,787 for his project entitled: “Antibody prevention and treatment of HIV”.
On 9 November 2015, the federal Minister for Health, the Hon Sussan Ley, MP, announced $630 million in NHMRC funding to support 836 new research grants.
This included Prof Rob Parton, one of our Chief Investigators. Prof Parton is group Leader, Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine Division, Investigator, Centre for Rare Diseases Research and an Investigator, Breakthrough Science Program in Mechanobiology
Prof Parton received: $951,321 for his project entitled “Molecular characterisation of transverse tubule development in skeletal muscle project”.
On 19 October 2015, the Minister for Health Sussan Ley and Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham announced the outcomes of the $43 million NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellowships.
This included a four-year fellowship to Dr Kristian Kempe, who is currently a Research Associate in the Haddleton Group at the University of Warwick in the UK, a Partner Organisation of the CBNS. He will undertake his fellowship at Monash University in 2016. Kristian received $601,940 for his four-year project entitled: “Novel targeted degradable multifunctional poly(vinyl-co-ester) nanoparticles for Alzheimer’s disease applications”.
Kristian’s work was featured in the Minister’s announcement about the fellowship.
Dr Adam Martin, UNSW, was a second CBNS member to receive a Dementia Research Fellowship.
A number of CBNS researchers were successful in the latest round of grants from the Australian Research Council.
Over $1.4 million was awarded across three grants that CBNS researchers led or were co-investigators on:
Full details of the Discovery Projects is available on the ARC website.
Over $1.3 million was awarded across three grants that CBNS researchers led or were co-investigators on:
Full details of the LIEF grants is available on the ARC website.
CBNS Chief Investigator and UNSW node leader, Prof Justin Gooding has for the second year running been included in the Analytical Scientist’s top 100 most influential analytical scientists in the world. He is ACS Sensors Editor-in-Chief; Scientia Professor; ARC Australian Laureate Fellow; and founding Co-Director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine, University of New South Wales, Australia.
Read more about Justin and the other scientists on the power list here
As part of its travel bursary award scheme, SCI (Society of Chemical Industry) offers financial support to promising academic researchers in the field of colloid and surface science to travel to an international conference or make a site visit related to their studies.
Known as Rideal Travel Bursaries, they are awarded by the Sir Eric Rideal Trust (administered jointly by SCI and the Royal Society of Chemistry, RSC). Rideal Travel Bursaries are awarded twice a year, in April and October, to standard and student members of SCI and the RSC, up to the value of £250 (for travel in Europe) or £500 (for travel to another continent). The April round of Rideal Travel Bursary applications were assessed by the judging panel and seven of the applicants were awarded bursaries.
The awardees represent different universities from around the UK (plus one from Australia) and headed to seven different conferences where they presented a paper or poster. Nicolas Alcaraz, from the CBNS Monash University node attended the 42nd CRS Annual Meeting & Exposition, Edinburgh, Scotland, where he presented his poster Title “Targeting Drug Carriers using Copper Free Click Chemistry and Metabolic Labelling”.
Nick says of the experience ” I am very happy and grateful that I was awarded the SCI-Rideal travel bursary. It partly contributed to my attendance at the CRS annual meeting in Edinburgh earlier this year where I was able to listen to prominent speakers in the field, this allowed me to expand my area of knowledge. I was also fortunate enough to present a poster of my research, it was great to receive such positive feedback and interest in my work. The best part of the trip was all the networking I was able to do. By speaking to the other delegates I was able to use their experience to gain insight into the career I’ve begun and for advice, both general and specific to my PhD.”
Read Nick’s report from Edinburgh.
On 19 October the Minister for Health Sussan Ley and Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham announced the outcomes of the $43 Million NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellowships.
This included a four year fellowship to Dr Adam Martin, who is currently a Research Associate in the School of Chemistry, UNSW. Adam received $594,644 for his 4 year project entitled: “Self-assembled hydrogels as a model for neurodegeneration”
Adam is a member of the Thordarson Research Group at the University of New South Wales School of Chemistry, the Australian Centre for Nanomedicine and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology.
Adam said on receiving the award, “It is a great privilege and an honour to be awarded an NHMRC Research Development Fellowship. This award will allow me to develop a research program which looks into the initial stages of Alzheimer’s disease to help with early diagnosis and more effective treatments.”
Dr Kristian Kempe, currently Warwick University, is a second CBNS researcher to receive a Dementia Research Fellowship.
PhD candidate Alistair Laos from the Thordarson group CBNS-UNSW, presented in July in a seminar at the prestigious 2015 Photosynthesis Gordon Research Seminar. His talk was titled “Tuneable Light Harvesting and Folding of a Photosynthetic Antenna Protein: Insights into Photoprotection”. Alistair’s work is focused on improving our understanding of how protein structure leads to an intriguing energy transfer mechanism known as quantum coherence, and, whether organisms are able to tune this mechanism during excess sunlight.
Subsequently, Alistair was granted admission to Princeton University (NJ, USA) as a Visiting Student Research Collaborator where he has been working in collaboration with Prof Greg Scholes‘ research group using two-dimensional ultra-fast laser spectroscopy to study quantum coherence phenomena in his protein assemblies.
CBNS Chief Investigator Professor Andrew Whittaker has recently signed an agreement with leading Wuhan universities to join UQ and QUT to form the “Wuhan/Brisbane Research Alliance in Functional Polymeric Materials”. Also involved is another of our CI’s Dr Kris Thurecht.
Professor Whittaker explains “This is a city to city agreement supported by Wuhan municipality and the host universities with the main activities aligned with the CBNS, i.e. nanomedicine and medical imaging. We expect extensive student and staff exchange, as well as joint research funding.”
Prof Whittaker is director of the Brisbane node of the Alliance, and Prof Guo-Ping Yan is director of the Wuhan node.
Professor Ben Boyd, from the ARC Centre for Bio-Nano Science and the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, says it’s thought the device could be loaded with 10 doses of medication, and therefore would only need to be injected once a year.
The tiny sponge is covered in nano-sized light-sensitive pores (one-millionth the thickness of a human hair) that open and close when exposed to infra-red light pulses. Professor Boyd says this means that an ophthalmologist will be able to trigger the medication every six weeks using the same kind of laser deployed in other eye procedures.
“One of the challenges will be getting clinicians to come out of their comfort zone and adopt the device,” he says.
Link to the full article in the Age: here
Professor Maria Kavallaris, a Chief Investigator at the CBNS, Director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine at UNSW and Head of the Tumour Biology and Targeting Program at Children’s Cancer Institute, has been announced as a winner of The Australian Financial Review and Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence for 2015.
In its fourth year, the 100 Women of Influence Awards celebrate outstanding women from a wide variety of sectors across Australia. There are 10 categories: Board/Management, Public Policy, Diversity, Business Enterprise, Young Leader, Global, Local/Regional, Innovation, Culture and Social Enterprise.
Entrants into the awards were assessed by a panel of esteemed judges and have been recognised based on their outstanding ability to demonstrate vision, leadership, innovation and action in and beyond their fields.
Ainslie van Onselen, Director of Women’s Markets, Diversity and Inclusion at Westpac, said: “The breadth and calibre of our 100 Women of Influence for 2015 is truly incredible. It is a privilege to recognise and celebrate the remarkable contribution these women are making to our society.
“Women have countless opportunities to be a driving force for change in Australia and shape our nation’s future through their respective fields. Awarded in the Innovation category, Professor Maria Kavallaris is a shining example for how women can be truly influential in their career and have a profound impact on long term outcomes. She joins an illustrious group of Australian women as part of the Women of Influence alumni, which continues to grow each year with diverse and exceptional talent.”
The awards dinner is being held on Thursday 15 October.
For more information please visit this link.
CBNS researchers have been highlighted by the ACS in a virtual issue dedicated to nanotoxicology. The CBNS work led by Dr Pu-Chun Ke, describes the nano-toxicity of graphene and silver nanoparticles and was authored by researchers from University of South Australia, Monash University and CSIRO.
Link to the ACS virtual issue here.
And the CBNS journal article here.
Professor Maria Kavallaris, Head of the Tumour Biology & Targeting Program at Children’s Cancer Institute and Chief Investigator ARC Centre of Excellence in Bio-Nano Science has been appointed by the Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, to the Research Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
The Research Committee is an influential body that guides the Council’s policy and expenditure, and advises on the quality and scope of medical and public health research in Australia.
Members of the Committee are distinguished members of the research community who have demonstrated leadership and extensive experience in their respective fields. In addition to her role at Children’s Cancer Institute, Professor Kavallaris is Director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine at UNSW Australia. She also serves on the Board of the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, and has held many advocacy roles in the past, such as President of the Australian Society for Medical Research. In 2014, NHMRC recognised her as an Australian ‘high achiever’ in health and medical research
Two of the Centre’s University of Melbourne researchers received special awards for their excellent presentations at the 6th International Nanomedicine Conference held in Sydney, Australia. NIMS postdoc researcher Dr Jiwei Cui received an Honorable Mention for his Oral Presentation by an Early Career Researcher. Dr Cui’s talk was entitled “Biologically Responsive Polymer Particles via Mesoporous Silica Templating for Drug Delivery”. Postgrad Qiong Dai was awarded Best Oral Presentation by a PhD Student at the conference; her presentation was titled “Monoclonal Antibody-Functionalized Multilayered Particles: Targeting Cancer Cells in the Presence of Protein Coronas”.
More on this story here
Congratulations to CBNS Chief Investigators Professors Justin Gooding and Maria Kavallaris from the University of NSW, Professor Nico Voelcker from the University of South Australia and Dr Kris Thurecht from University of Queensland, and on your three ARC Linkage grant successes.
Justin and Maria were awarded $410,000, partnering with AgaMatrix Inc to develop a biosensor for detecting short sequences of RNA, called microRNA (miRNA) in blood. There are about 100 miRNA sequences that are involved in most biological processes. Changes in the levels of some miRNA sequences can serve as a biomarker for many diseases including cancers. The miRNA will be detected using gold-coated magnetic nanoparticles modified with DNA sequences complementary to the miRNA of interest to capture the miRNA. Application of a magnetic field allows the levels of miRNA to be detected electrochemically. The expected outcome is a commercialisable biosensor for miRNA both as a diagnostic early detection device and a prognostic device for a range of miRNA biomarkers.
Nico was awarded $322,616, partnering with Perkin Elmer and G Perkin Elmer Pty. Ltd; Forensic Science SA to develop fit-for-purpose mass spectrometry tools for roadside and workplace testing of illicit drugs. The technology will be based on nanostructured semiconductor chips that are surface-functionalised to enable molecular capture without extensive sample processing and subsequent detection by a novel combination of techniques. The technology is expected to be applicable to saliva, sweat and urine samples.
Kris was awarded $360,000, partnering with Minomic International, to develop and optimise a novel platform technology that will assist in the development of hybrid materials consisting of nanomaterials and biomolecules, which form the basis of many commercial diagnostic devices. A novel antibody, MIL38, will provide the test bed for the technology, which will aim to deliver a platform that is stable under physiological conditions and that enables facile conjugation of nanomaterials with antibodies. This project has the potential to rapidly improve the ligation process between synthetic nanomaterials and biologics, leading to more efficient synthesis of targeted diagnostics. This would provide a significant commercial advantage for any nanomaterials developed for the field, and specifically for this project, expedite translation of MIL38.
The two-day workshop showcased the advances and innovations in polymer research and industry. Emily presented her research utilising dendrimers and graphene for the inhibition of amylin aggregation with application in type-2 diabetes treatment. Lars demonstrated a polymeric system that facilitates investigation into the influence of nanoparticle size, shape and surface on bio-nano interactions.
The success of our young scientists was a great ending to a workshop that highlighted the innovative polymer research in Victoria and continued to foster strong relationships between academia and industry.
Stories of Australian Science 2015 has profiled the work of CBNS Deputy Director Professor Frank Caruso to make nano-sized capsule for drug delivery.
You can read the profile and other ‘Storied of Australian Science’ here.
Nanotechnologies have been applied to innumerable industries and changed our world through electronics, foods, construction and material science. Advances in nanotechnology and nano-fabrication are also fundamentally changing the future of medicine.
But, there are concerns that Nanomaterials may be harmful, that their ability to penetrate cells could pose risks of bioaccumulation and toxicity .
Listen to the interview on the ABC Radio Live Matters website, link here
Congratulations to Angela Babi, a CBNS student based at Warwick University studying Medicinal Chemistry (MChem), whose research project has been awarded the Andrew McCamley Prize for an outstanding 4th Year Research Project for her project entitled ‘As(III)-functionalised nanoparticles targeting cell-surface thiols for enhanced cell uptake’. This prize is awarded to the individual who demonstrates excellence in all aspects of research and serves as worthy recognition for the excellent work the Angela performed in the lab and subsequently reported in her thesis, presentation and oral examination.
The Engineers Australia Top 100 list highlights the influence of outstanding engineers in all spheres of society.
Professor Mark Kendall’s leadership in developing the nanopatch has resulted in him being included on the list under the Entrepreneurs and Experts category, for the second year in a row.
Mark is CBNS Node Leader at the University of Queensland (UQ) and Group leader at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) at UQ.
In addition to these roles he is also Chief Technology Officer and Director of biomedical company Vaxxas and chairs the UQ Innovation Champions, helping to foster the next generation of innovators.
For more information, please visit the Engineers Australia site.
We are very proud of Amelia Parker, a PhD student, working with Centre’s Chief Investigator Professor Maria Kavallaris. Amelia works within the Tumor Biology and Targeting team, and has been chosen by the Australian Academy of Science to attend this year’s prestigious Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting in Germany.
In a highly competitive process, the Academy has given a group of 13 brilliant young researchers working across physics, medicine and chemistry the opportunity to interact and learn from Nobel Laureates in their field.
The 65th Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting will bring together Nobel Laureates and young scientists from across 88 countries.
Of the more than 70,000 young researchers who apply each year, only 700 are selected to attend.
Immunologist Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty, Chair of our Governance Board, will also be attending.
Amelia Parker is no stranger to awards. In 2012 she made the University of New South Wales Dean’s List acknowledging the achievements of young researchers with the potential to become career scientists.
Amelia says of the award “I am honoured to have been selected to participate in the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting as it is an amazing opportunity to engage with and learn from other young scientists and Nobel Laureates from around the world. With participants from physical and chemical sciences as well as medicine and physiology, this is a unique opportunity to discuss and gain new perspectives on my work and research more broadly, which could potentially lead to international collaborations.”
For more information on the the meeting please visit the Meeting website.
Congratulations to Professor Justin Gooding on being awarded 2015 Australian Laureate Fellowship.
The Australian Research Council (ARC) Australian Laureate Fellowships were announced yesterday by Minister for Education, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP.
“Competition for Laureate Fellowships was especially high this year, with an increase in applications of almost 30 per cent. The research programmes of the 15 Laureate Fellows announced today will deliver outcomes that will benefit our nation, its economy and our people,” Mr Pyne said.
The prestigious Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme supports outstanding Australian and international researchers and research leaders to build Australia’s research capacity, undertake innovative research programs and mentor early-career researchers.
The scheme is an integral part of the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Discovery Program which supports high quality research essential to Australia’s innovation system for the development of new ideas, job creation, economic growth, and an enhanced quality of life in Australia.
The objectives of the Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme are to:
Professor Gooding was one of only fifteen Australian Laureate Fellows awarded this year.
CBNS Node Leader, Justin Gooding, received his Fellowship for work on “The first generation of single entity measurement tools for analysis”.
Further information on the work that will be undertaken as part of the fellowship, along with information about the other recipients of a Laureate Fellowship is available on the ARC website.
CBNS Chief Investigator Nigel Bunnett has been named editor of the American Journal of Physiology—Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, effective July 1, 2015.
Nigel was educated in England, receiving a BSc in Animal Physiology and Nutrition from the University of Leeds, and a PhD from the Institute of Animal Physiology (Babraham Institute), the University of Cambridge. Nigel spent the next 30 years of his career on the West Coast of the United States as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, and then as a junior faculty member at the University of Washington, Seattle. In 1987, he joined the University of California, San Francisco, and he remained there for almost 25 years, becoming Professor of Surgery and Physiology, Vice Chair of Surgery, and Director of the UCSF Center for the Neurobiology of Digestive Diseases. Nigel relocated to Monash University, Melbourne, in 2011, where he holds appointments as a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Australia Fellow, Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, and Deputy Director of the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Nigel’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of inflammation and pain, which underlie diseases of global relevance. He is particularly recognized for his work on defining the functions and regulation of G-protein-coupled receptors and transient receptor potential ion channels, two major classes of cell-surface proteins that are essential for the transmission of inflammation and pain. His laboratory studies receptors for neuropeptides, proteases, and bile acids that regulate multiple pathophysiological processes in the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, and liver, many of which are also controlled by transient receptor potential ion channels. Nigel’s work is clinically informed and translationally relevant. His appointments in basic science and clinical departments have facilitated studies of the mechanisms of digestive disease, and with colleagues in pharmaceutical sciences he is seeking to develop treatments for diseases that are major causes of human suffering.
More on this story here
Her vision is to use nanotechnology to deliver drugs and gene-silencing therapies directly to cancer cells. He is a social scientist with an interest in the social and ethical issues of technological change.
Together Professor Maria Kavallaris and Dr Matthew Kearnes as part of this ARC Centre of Excellence, they are embarking on a research project to consider some of the social implications of nanomedicine, and to develop a platform for engaging the public in the unfolding nano revolution.
Felicity Kao, a PhD student in the Kavallaris lab presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Philadelphia in April 2015.
AACR is the largest gathering of cancer researchers in the world and Felicity shared her findings that described a high-throughput small molecule drug screen that led to the identification of a novel chemical small molecule that can modulating a cancer-associated protein in cancer cells.
Felicity received a UNSW Postgraduate Travel Award to attend the conference
Sebastien Perrier has been awarded a €1.7 million Consolidator Grant by the European Research Council for his work on tubular supramolecular polymers.
These structures, pioneered by the Perrier group, are based on the assembly of cyclic peptide/polymer conjugates into nanotubes, held together by supramolecular interactions. They have a range of unique physical and chemical properties, and the ERC grant will allow the group to develop these systems further as drug delivery vectors. Recent work has shown that they can act efficiently to deliver anticancer drugs to cancer cells and enhance the drug activity, and the 5 years’ ERC funding will support further studies in this area.
Nicolas Alcaraz (PhD candidate) from the Monash node of the CBNS (Boyd group) has recently been awarded a SCI-RSC Rideal Travel Bursary to attend the 42nd CRS Annual Meeting and Exposition in Edinburgh from the 26th to the 29th of July. More than 1200 delegates from over 40 countries will come together to exchange knowledge on the emerging topics in delivery science and the experience will provide Nicolas with a great opportunity to network with leading researchers and industry partners in his field. He will be presenting a poster of his work relating to the covalent attachment of cubosomes to a silicon surface through copper-free click chemistry.
Additionally, he will stop by the University of Warwick where he will visit Prof. Mathew Gibson’s lab where similar work is being conducted. The chemistry department at Warwick is one of the best in the UK and is recognized internationally for its high quality research.
Tang Li, another PhD candidate as part of the CBNS from the Boyd group, was selected to attend the highly competitive JCNS Neutron Scattering Laboratory course to be held in Germany from 7th –18th September 2015. This program provides an opportunity for excellent young researchers around the world to attend a two week course consisting of a series of lectures on neutron scattering at the Forschungszentrum, Julich, combined with the opportunity to take part in neutron scattering experiments at the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum MLZ in Garching. As an awarded participant, the course fee as well as accommodation fees will be covered. Flight and travel expenses will also be reimbursed. This will be a great opportunity for Tang to gain knowledge and experience using neutron scattering techniques for her PhD project which involves investigating the changes to the solid state properties of nanocrystalised drug within liposomes through oral drug delivery. It would also allow her to interact with other researchers and technical experts around the world in the area of using synchrotron science to discover the potential of nanotechnology in drug delivery.
Joe Cursons, an early career postdoctoral researcher from Edmund Crampin’s Systems Biology Laboratory (University of Melbourne) recently attended the Volkswagen Whole Cell Modelling Workshop in Rostock, Germany (https://sites.google.com/site/vwwholecellsummerschool/). Over 50 PhD students and ECRs came together for a week of programming using open source software standards which are maintained by the Computational Modelling in Biology Network (COMBINE).
The specific purpose of the workshop was to develop a Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) representation for a whole-cell model of Mycoplasma genitalium. The model was originally developed by Jonathan Karr [Karr, J.R. et al. (2012), Cell. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.05.044] using the proprietary scripting language MATLAB, and it describes a diverse range of cellular processes which are necessary for growth and replication.
During the workshop a collection of re-usable mathematical models were developed, describing sub-cellular processes including: transcriptional regulation, protein translation, and metabolic reactions. In the future, researchers who wish to develop complex whole-cell models describing a wide range of different processes will be able to download these models as a template, and where possible introduce modifications that better match the system of interest.
While developing this codebase, workshop participants also identified limitations of current tools which prevented or hindered model development, identifying features which should be incorporated into future releases of SBML. The workshop also provided Dr Cursons with a unique opportunity to interact with members of the COMBINE community and develop his understanding and knowledge of tools which can be applied for CBNS projects.
Dr Wilson has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship which he will be taking up at the University of Warwick with Prof. Tom Davis acting as ‘host.’ These particular fellowships are a 50% matched funding scheme, lasting for 3 years, which are designed to enable researchers in the early stages of their career to work on a significant piece of publishable work to support their transition into a full academic position.
Paul has been awarded a fellowship to support his proposal entitled ‘Synthesis, evaluation and application of arsenical-linked polymer bioconjugates’ in which he will be expanding on initial work performed at Warwick with Professor Davis (JACS, 2015, 137, 4215-4222).
Dr. Athina Anastasaki won the prize for the best PhD thesis (joint with Robert Deller) at University of Warwick in the department of Chemistry. The thesis prize was awarded in the annual postgraduate symposium and includes a certificate and £500 sponsored by the faculty of science.
Athina’s PhD was entitled ‘Shining a light on copper mediated living radical polymerization; maximising end-group fidelity’.
On 9 November 2015, the federal Minister for Health, the Hon. Sussan Ley, MP, announced $630 million in NHRMC funding to support 836 new research grants.
This included Dr Kristofer Thurecht, one of our Chief Investigators. Dr Thurecht is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow with appointments at AIBN and UQ’s Centre for Advanced Imaging. He has been chief investigator on grants from various funding bodies, including ARC Discovery grants; ARC Linkage Grants, with international pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly; a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant; and funding from the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. He is co-inventor on two patents.
Kris received $626,995 for his project entitled: “Immuno-polymeric drugs for prostate cancer therapy”.
Lars Esser and Joanne Ly, 25th May 2015
Prof Jason Lewis of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center discussing the frontiers of diagnostics
On May 7th 2015, the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology (CBNS) and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) organised a one-day symposium hosted at the University of Queensland (UQ) highlighting the advances in molecular imaging.
Molecular imaging aims to non-invasively visualise, characterise and quantify normal and pathologic processes within the living organism and can be performed using a range of imaging modalities including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), X-ray computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET). Molecular imaging is a rapidly growing, wide-ranging field of study that has tremendous potential to diagnose diseases at its earliest stages, monitor response to treatment, and allow simultaneous imaging and drug delivery by theranostics. This will also lead to the development of individualized therapies tailored to a patient’s genetic makeup, resulting in improved patient outcomes.
The symposium was opened by Prof Andrew Whittaker, group leader at AIBN and CBNS Chief Investigator. 13 presentations were given in three themes: clinical aspects of PET and MRI; materials and microscopy; and advanced materials for imaging and theranostics. Delegates were also fortunate to receive a tour of the imaging facilities at the Centre of Advanced Imaging, including the radiochemistry labs and the world’s first Bruker ClinScan MR/PET scanner.
One of the highlights of the symposium was a plenary presentation by CBNS Partner Investigator Professor Jason Lewis of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Professor Lewis reviewed the current state-of-the-art molecular imaging agents in the context of precision medicine and companion diagnostics in clinical research. He highlighted the integration of new technologies, such as biomarker microchips, molecular whole body imaging, micro-NMR for cancer diagnosis, and multimodal contrast agents.
Jonathan Wojciechowski (PhD candidate) and Adam Martin (Early-Career Postdoctoral Researcher) from the UNSW node (Thordarson group) of the CBNS will shortly be attending the prestigious Gordon Research Conference on Supramolecular Chemistry and Self-Assembly, to be held in Tuscany from the 17th to the 22nd of May. The conference features world-leading researchers from various aspects of supramolecular chemistry presenting their cutting-edge research and ideas for the future direction of the field. Gordon Research Conferences are well-known for their smaller, intimate atmosphere that promotes discussion between established world-leading academics and early career researchers.
In addition, Jonathan and Adam will also be visiting the labs of Prof. Jan van Esch (Delft University of Technology) and Prof. Dave Adams (University of Liverpool). Both labs are among the leading research groups in the area of small organic molecule self-assembly.
Paper of the Month in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Polymer Chemistry Journal “Rapid synthesis of ultrahigh molecular weight and low polydispersity polystyrene diblock copolymers by RAFT-mediated emulsion polymerization“. Authors Nghia P. Truong, Marion V. Dussert, Michael R. Whittaker, John F. Quinn and Thomas P. Davis.
Link to the Polymer Chemistry blog here
Josh Glass, a CBNS PhD Candidate from The University of Melbourne, will be heading to Yokohama, Japan in June to participate in an immunology program at the RIKEN IMS Center for Integrative Medical Sciences. Josh is one of forty PhD students and post-docs selected from around the world to participate in the program. He will be hosted by RIKEN for the week-long program, which includes lectures and classes led by distinguished immunologists, followed by an international symposium.
Josh says “The exciting thing for me is that this is an immunology program and by giving a short talk and poster presentation, I will be able to communicate our nanotechnology research to an immunology audience, allowing me to really think about the human outcomes of this nano work. My presentations will include recent data related to the successful targeting of caveolin nanoparticles to a variety of human immune cells.”
More information can be found here
CI Rob Parton is part of an international team awarded a $1 350 000 (US) Research grant from the Human Frontier Science program over 3 years ($450 000 per year).
Research grants are provided for teams of scientists from different countries who wish to combine their expertise in innovative approaches to questions that could not be answered by individual laboratories.
Emphasis is placed on novel collaborations that bring together scientists preferably from different disciplines (e.g. from chemistry, physics, computer science, engineering) to focus on problems in the life sciences.
The research teams must be international and the other team, members are from USA, Brazil and Spain.
The Application on “Mammalian lipid droplets: a central role in the organismal antibacterial response?” was ranked 3rd among 21 awards made from 61 full applications for Program Grants.
Chief Investigator Robert Parton, from the University of Queensland node, is Keynote Speaker with an Abstract title:New insights into the structure and function of caveolae.
At Cold Spring Harbor Asia conference on Lipid Metabolism and Human Metabolic Disorders which will be held in Suzhou, China, located approximately 60 miles west of Shanghai.
The conference will begin at 7:00pm on the evening of Monday June 1, and will conclude after lunch on June 5, 2015
National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant awarded to CBNS Chief Investigators Professors Maria Kavallaris (program lead), Justin Gooding and Tom Davis. The NHMRC Program grant of $7,088,520 on precision nanomedicine-based diagnostics and therapeutics for refractory malignancies is being used to develop new approaches to diagnose and treat cancers that currently have poor outcomes. The five year research program commences in 2016.
“We are striving to develop effective and less toxic cancer therapies, which can still target the tumour cells, but spare the normal healthy cells,” says Chief Investigator, UNSW Professor Maria Kavallaris, the co-director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine and Program Head at the Children’s Cancer Institute.
“Not only will this be better for patients undergoing treatment, it will also potentially minimise the damage conventional chemotherapy has on patients, such as fertility, cardiac and endocrine problems,” says Professor Kavallaris.
Chief Investigator Professor Andrew Whittaker from the University of Queensland node, was invited to give a Seminar at Monash University as part of the very popular MIPS seminar series.
The Seminar topic was Biologically-responsive MRI agents.
The seminar was well attended with PhD students joining Professor Whittaker for lunch after the Seminar.
Centre CI Ben Boyd and his team have discovered a formation of nanostructure during the digestion of human breast milk.
To read the article please link here
Additional information please link here