Unhealthy cells are less “squishy” than their healthy counterparts. That difference is used by a small device developed by engineers at Monash University to test living blood cells for diseases, such as malaria and diabetes. The device can then sort the cells for future culturing and experimentation without harming them.
The patented “lab-on-a-chip” and accompanying control system has attracted considerable interest from pharmaceutical companies, according to co-inventor Dr Greg Sheard of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Continue reading Health check for live cells→
A new brain implant could deliver anti-epilepsy drugs straight to where they’re needed and, in future, on demand. This will be particularly helpful for the 30 per cent of epilepsy patients who suffer severe side-effects, such as nausea, rashes, weight change and dizziness, from their medication, leaving them unable to be treated.
The implant is a biodegradable polymer that ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science associate Bionics program leader A/Prof Simon Moulton compares to the types of polymers used in dissolvable stitches. Continue reading On-demand epilepsy drug→
CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope is already booked out for much of its first five years of data gathering, even before it formally begins early operations in 2013.
More than 400 astronomers from over a dozen nations have already signed up to look for pulsars, measure cosmic magnetic fields, and study millions of galaxies.
A new fibre optic medical tool is revolutionising our understanding of serious but socially embarrassing digestive illnesses, such as constipation, diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome. Thanks to this device, medical scientists can see for the first time the coordinated, fine and complex muscular activity of the human digestive system in action.
CSIRO optical physicist Dr John Arkwright, together with Dr Philip Dinning, of Flinders University, collected a 2011 Eureka Prize for their creation of the fibre optic catheter, which gleans information about digestive function by measuring pressure. Continue reading Fibre optics: from cables to colon health→
Neutrons and native frogs are an unlikely but dynamic duo in the battle against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, commonly known as superbugs, recent research has shown.
The skin secretions of the Australian green-eyed and growling grass frogs contain peptides (small proteins) that help frogs fight infection. Researchers hope these peptides will offer a new line of defence against a range of human bacterial pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Continue reading Frog peptides versus superbugs→
Twenty years ago doctors thought epilepsy was caused by injuries or tumours but, thanks to the work of a Melbourne paediatrician, we now know that there’s a large genetic factor.
Prof Ingrid Scheffer, a paediatric neurologist at the Florey Neuroscience Institutes and the University of Melbourne, has spent the last 20 years looking at the genetics of epilepsy, particularly in children.
We now know that genes play a large role and that’s opened the way to better diagnosis, treatment, counselling, and potential cures.
In particular, Ingrid’s team and her collaborators at the University of South Australia have discovered that one kind of inherited infant epilepsy is due to a single letter change in the genetic code.
Electrodes made of diamond are helping Melbourne researchers build a better bionic eye.
Some types of blindness are caused by diseases where the light-sensing part of the retina is damaged, but the nerves that communicate with the brain are still healthy—for example, retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.
Dr David Garrett and his colleagues at the Melbourne Materials Institute at the University of Melbourne are using diamond to build electrodes that can replace the light-sensing function of the retina: they deliver an electrical signal to the eye via a light-sensing camera.