All posts by Bill Condie

Copenhagen, Leiden and Melbourne tackle stem cells together

€300m funding from Novo Nordisk Foundation brings together experts to advance stem cell medicine.

The potential for new drugs and therapies using human stem cells to treat heart, respiratory and kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, and other conditions are the focus of a new Australian-European collaboration of three research institutes.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine will be known as ‘reNEW’ and brings together Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Australia, the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

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An old vaccine for new diseases?

Updated May 2023

The tuberculosis vaccine BCG may help protect against other allergies and infections, although not COVID according to the latest publications from a global project responding to the pandemic.

Long term trials suggest the Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine targeting tuberculosis improves the performance of the innate immune system in babies. This innate response is our first line of defence, at least in babies.

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Tiny lens looks at hearts

The world’s smallest endoscope will soon be predicting the risk of heart attacks

Scientists in Adelaide and Stuttgart are improving heart attack warnings using a new endoscope with a camera lens less than 0.5 mm wide, too small to see with the naked eye.

““A major factor in heart disease is the plaques, made up of fats, cholesterol and other substances that build up in the vessel walls,” explains lead researcher Dr Jiawen Li from the University of Adelaide, who worked with a team from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP).

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Birds in the city

How cockatoos adapt to an urban environment

A scientist in southern Germany is lifting the lid on Australian birds and how they are learning to open suburban wheelie bins.

Australian researcher Dr Lucy Aplin, at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, has been awarded an EU grant to delve further into the cognition of sulphur-crested cockatoos – work she began in the suburbs of Sydney.

Cockatoos are extremely gregarious birds that forage in small groups, roost in large ones, and are rarely seen alone.

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Steel by design

Building a more sustainable Europe

Australian and Spanish teamwork is improving the ways steel buildings and bridges are designed, making them safer and greener.

Civil engineer Dr Itsaso Arrayago is the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Fellow at Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya and the University of Sydney. She is collaborating with bridge engineering consultancy Pedlelta who designed the first vehicular stainless steel bridge.

Dr Arrayago studied for two years with University of Sydney’s Professor Kim Rasmussen, whose pioneering work is changing engineering. His techniques take advantage of sophisticated design modelling and analysis.

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Calcium from millet?

Fortifying crops provides struggling communities around the world with the nutrients they need

Australian plant physiologist and biochemist Professor James Stangoulis is working on the biofortification of crops to make staple foods in the developing world more nutritious.

“While the focus is on nutrition for human consumption, it also has the important benefit of helping to deliver higher yields on nutrient-poor soils,” says Professor Stangoulis from Flinders University.

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A cure for ageing riesling

Germany and Australia protect vineyards from sun damage

It’s a good thing to age like wine, so the saying goes, but would you want to age like a wine grape? Not if it’s a riesling grape growing under harsh sunshine.

Riesling grapes are struggling with premature ageing, seemingly because of climate change, in parts of Australia where they have previously thrived.

“In recent years young riesling wines have started to show a premature ‘aged’ character,” says Dr Yevgeniya Grebneva, a German scientist working for the Australian Wine Research Institute in Adelaide and the Hochschule Geisenheim University.

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