All posts by Operations

Touch of silk to repair ruptured eardrums

A transparent, silk-derived implant that looks like a contact lens and can fix damaged eardrums is giving hope to millions who suffer from recurrent ear infections.

Creators of the device—from the Australian Research Council’s Future Fibres Research Hub and the Perth-based Ear Science Institute Australia (ESIA)—secured funding to start human clinical trials with it in Australia in 2018.

The implant, called ClearDrum, is made from silk protein that forms a see-through scaffold on which cells can grow to close eardrum perforations. Continue reading Touch of silk to repair ruptured eardrums

The dream to get every Australian connected online

A new index on digital inclusion is setting out a path for all Australians to get the vital benefits that come with internet access.

Information and communication technologies have become near-essential for everyday life, but many people in low income, remote and vulnerable communities can’t access them. Continue reading The dream to get every Australian connected online

Seeing medical devices from concept to commercialisation

It’s difficult to get medical devices out of academia and industry and into end-users’ hands. But a South Australian researcher developed a way to do it—and the program is now set to expand nationally, thanks to funding from the Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals Industry Growth Centre.

Devices the program has supported include the U-stand Frame—which helps hospital patients or the elderly stand from a bed with minimal assistance—and a device placed in urinals that gives instant feedback on hydration, to address the impact of heat stress on worker safety. Continue reading Seeing medical devices from concept to commercialisation

Turning off toxic T cells in MS clinical trial

Switching off T cells before they begin to damage the nervous system is the basis of an Australian therapy for multiple sclerosis (MS), which is expected to begin clinical trials by the end of 2017.

Developed by researchers at Victoria University in western Melbourne and the University of Patras in Greece, it brings together peptides, or protein fragments, with a biochemical delivery system already shown to be effective in cancer vaccine clinical trials. Continue reading Turning off toxic T cells in MS clinical trial

How social media can help businesses get ahead

Scientists from RMIT University are helping businesses across Europe and Australia harness the power of social media to become more innovative in a competitive market.

“Social media will help businesses develop innovations and promote novelties faster, with a competitive advantage,” says Professor Anne-Laure Mention, Director of the Enabling Capability Platform for Global Business Innovation at RMIT University.

With colleagues from Sydney, Geneva, and Luxembourg, Anne-Laure’s team is analysing the use of social media for open innovation practices in businesses around the world.

Continue reading How social media can help businesses get ahead

Making motorcycle clothing safer

Most motorcycle clothing is not as protective as you might think. But from next year it will be easier to identify the safest gloves and garments, thanks to a rating system developed by Deakin University researchers.

Keen biker Dr Chris Hurren and his colleague Dr Liz de Rome, of the university’s Institute for Frontier Materials, tested fabrics used in biker clothing—such as denim and synthetic protective liners—to measure breathability and durability. More than 60 per cent performed poorly. Continue reading Making motorcycle clothing safer

A scarce Sarah: new blood group making transfusions safer

Further research into a rare blood type first recorded in Australia 20 years ago will continue to make transfusions and pregnancies safer for others.

“Now families with the SARA blood type can be tested for the gene and this will help safely manage future pregnancies,” says Associate Professor Catherine Hyland of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

“This genetic testing has implications for others, particularly since similar problems can occur during transfusion or pregnancy for people with similar rare blood types.”

Blood types are more complex than simply combinations of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ with A, B, O, or Rh—there are hundreds of different antigens (proteins and sugars on the surface of our cells) across the 36-plus blood groups.

In the 1990s, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service realised the antigens on a special donor named Sarah’s red blood cells weren’t like any previously recorded. But it wasn’t until 2010 that the unusual antigen was investigated again: the Canadian Blood Service reported that a pregnant woman’s immune system had begun attacking her foetus, which they suspected had inherited the same rare blood type recorded in Australia. Continue reading A scarce Sarah: new blood group making transfusions safer

Robotic arm to help stroke patients regain movement

A robotic arm is the key to a radical new stroke treatment, helping patients regain upper body movement.

Melbourne researchers have developed a device that helps stroke patients learn to use their bodies again by tracking their movements while performing exercises. The arm movements can be displayed on a computer screen, and the activities turned into a game.

“The patients enjoy using the robot because it’s like playing computer games,” says Associate Professors Denny Oetomo, who is working with Ying Tan, and a team at The University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital.

“It also improves the ratio of patients to clinician time as the clinicians can handle multiple patients at one time.” Continue reading Robotic arm to help stroke patients regain movement