Tag Archives: medical research

‘Baby molecule’ halves scarring after stroke

A drug based on a molecule naturally present in infants – but which declines in adulthood – can halve the scarring in brains of those who have suffered stroke. And it can be delivered up to a week afterward.

The drug developed by James and Leon minimises the amount of scarring after the wound has been stabilised. Credit: Leon Teo
Enlarged cell bodies (pink), with increased scar-forming (green) following stroke. Credit: Leon Teo

“We hope our work will improve the recovery of the elderly, as well as people in rural and remote communities, who haven’t had access to speedy treatment following a stroke,” says Associate Professor James Bourne at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI[1]), and Chief Investigator of the research.

The current treatment, a drug called tPA, is limited to ischemic strokes (caused by a blood clot). Only 10 per cent of all stroke patients qualify for treatment using the clot-busting drug, which can have harmful side-effects including haemorrhages. The optimum treatment window for tPA is within three hours of the stroke, with a 35 per cent success rate.

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Australian Academy of Science medals

Harry Messel has been a powerful force in science education—from the Physics Foundation to textbooks and his establishment of International Science Schools. He was awarded the Academy Medal.

Simon McKeon is a prominent business leader and philanthropist who has made extensive contributions to Australian science and innovation including chairing the CSIRO Board and the agenda-setting McKeon report into medical research in Australia. He was awarded the Academy Medal.

The life and death of cells: Jerry Adams has advanced understanding of cancer development, particularly of genes activated by chromosome translocation in lymphomas. By clarifying how the Bcl-2 protein family controls the life and death of cells, he and his colleagues at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research have galvanised the development of a promising new class of anti-cancer drugs. Jerry was awarded the 2014 Macfarlane Burnet Medal. Continue reading Australian Academy of Science medals

Terry Speed: fighting cancer by the numbers

Terry Speed doesn’t expect to see headlines reading “Statistician cures cancer” any time soon. But he knows that maths and stats can help researchers understand the underlying causes of cancer and reduce the need for surgery.

Terry Speed. Credit: WEHI

A mathematician and statistician, he has written elegant theoretical papers that almost no-one reads. But he has also testified in court, helped farmers and diamond miners, and given biologists statistical tools to help them cope with the genetic revolution.

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A new job for glass fibres

While researching the performance of the optical fibres that are the backbone of telecommunications and the internet, Tanya Monro realised that they could do much more.

Tanya Monro. Credit: Jennie Groom

She’s invented a new class of hollow or holey fibres using soft glass, which have thousands of applications as sensors: detecting metal fatigue in aircraft wings and other structures; monitoring contamination in water supplies; and a smart bung that monitors wine development while it’s still in the barrel.

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How bugs stick to our stomachs

James Whisstock and his Monash University colleagues have uncovered how the bacterium Helicobacter pylori sticks to the stomach lining, where it can cause ulcers and sometimes cancer.

Photo: James Whisstock. Credit: MNHS Multimedia Services, Monash University

The role of Helicobacter in causing gastric ulcers was originally discovered by Australian Nobel Laureates Barry Marshall and Robin Warren.

The recent work by James and his team was performed using the Australian Synchrotron and showed how the Helicobacter pylori protein SabA interacts with sugars present on the cells that line the stomach.

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White cell assassins prove kiss of death for cancer

White blood cells have proven to be the serial assassins of the immune system, moving quickly on to their next target once they’re released from a dying cancer cell’s grip.

Misty Jenkins. Credit: L’Oréal Australia/sdpmedia.com.au

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Typhoid tips off new epidemic approach

A typhoid outbreak in Kathmandu has provided new insights into bacterial epidemics and antibiotic resistance, thanks to a Melbourne scientist’s genomic research.

Kathryn Holt. Credit: L’Oréal Australia/sdpmedia.com.au

Kathryn Holt, of the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute, used genome sequencing to discover that an epidemic of deadly typhoid bacteria in Nepal’s capital city was driven by climate, and not by the outbreak of novel genetic strains.

Her research, published in the Royal Society journal Open Biology, changes our understanding of how typhoid spreads and how we can better respond to other bacterial epidemics.

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Glucosamine study raises fertility concerns

Research on the effects of the popular joint supplement glucosamine has raised fears for women’s fertility, and a knee-jerk reaction from the vitamin industry, as Adelaide scientists reveal its threat to conception.

Photo: Green staining in a glucosamine-treated egg (bottom) shows increased activity in the glucose-sensing pathway compared with a control (top). Credit: Robinson Research Institute

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Obese dads leave kids with fat chance

An obese father increases the risk of his children and grandchildren becoming obese, even if they follow a healthy diet. That’s the implication of a series of mouse studies conducted at the University of Adelaide.

Photo: A mouse with diet induced obesity and its control counterpart. Credit: Robinson Research Institute

The researchers found that a father’s high-fat diet could change the molecular make-up of his sperm, leading to obesity and diabetes-like symptoms in two generations of offspring.

“With obese fathers, changes in the sperm’s microRNA molecules are linked with programming the embryo for obesity or metabolic disease later in life,” says Tod Fullston, the study’s lead author and an NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellow with the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute.

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Preterm birth linked to teen school angst

Large numbers of premature-born children may be slipping under the radar, say researchers who have found brain development problems in teenagers deemed clinically normal after a late preterm birth.

Children born even one to five weeks premature can show reduced skills later in life.

Julia Pitcher and Michael Ridding, of the Robinson Research Institute, University of Adelaide, found that children born even one to five weeks premature showed reduced ‘neuroplasticity’ as teenagers. Their study provides the first physiological evidence of the link between late preterm birth and reduced motor, learning and social skills in later life.

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