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

Japan and Australia: partners in innovation

Japan and Australia: partners in innovation

Japan and Australia have a long history of collaboration in science and innovation. Here we profile some recent examples:

These stories and videos were produced by Science in Public for the Australian Embassy in Tokyo.

More below, and click here to read more stories of Japan-Australia research.

Continue reading Japan and Australia: partners in innovation

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

After 160 years, it’s time to throw away the needle and syringe

Professor Mark Kendall is planning to dispatch the 160-year-old needle and syringe to history. He’s invented a new vaccine technology that’s painless, uses a fraction of the dose, puts the vaccine just under the skin, and doesn’t require a fridge.

The Nanopatch is a 1 cm square piece of silicon with 20,000 microscopic needles engineered on one side. Coat the needles with dry vaccine, push it gently but firmly against the skin, and the vaccine is delivered just under the outer layer of skin.

It’s a technology he invented in response to a call from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seeking ideas for delivery of vaccines in developing countries—where it’s a challenge to keep conventional wet vaccines cold to the point of delivery.

Continue reading After 160 years, it’s time to throw away the needle and syringe

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

The right juice for your heart

Beetroot juice and exercise are being investigated as a treatment for cardiovascular problems. And understanding the workings of the combination could lead to other, more sophisticated therapies.

That’s the hope of Professor Jason Allen and his PhD student Mary Woessner from the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) at Victoria University in western Melbourne. Continue reading The right juice for your heart

The hidden infection causing infertility

One in five cases of infertility are caused by scars due to past infections with chlamydia, but in most cases people don’t know they were ever infected.

Researchers at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have discovered that a specific set of our genes switch on within half an hour of infection, which could lead to new treatments.  

Continue reading The hidden infection causing infertility

Mobile games are for paws, too

It turns out that Aussie pets love playing mobile games and watching TV,  just as we do.

In a three-year study of mobile gaming and digital media in Australian households, researchers were surprised to find animals frequently joining in on the fun with technology.

“We have observed cats playing with iPads and keyboards, dogs watching television or participating in Skype calls,” says Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth, Director of the Enabling Capability Platform for Design and Creative Practice at RMIT.

She co-leads the research with Associate Professor Ingrid Richardson from Murdoch University. Continue reading Mobile games are for paws, too