All posts by Maddy

Clinical trial to test potential new combination therapy for aggressive breast cancer

Researchers are recruiting volunteers for a clinical trial they hope will improve survival rates for an aggressive form of breast cancer that affects about 1,500 women each year in New South Wales.

The trial will test a new strategy in cancer treatment: using a new therapy to target a ‘defence switch’ on cancer cells that alerts cancer to the threat of chemotherapy.

The trial aims to improve survival rates for patients with triple negative breast cancer, a treatment-resistant form of cancer that can quickly adapt against chemotherapy. It will commence in August.

It will be led by Associate Professor Christine Chaffer and Dr Beatriz San Juan from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and Senior Staff Specialist in medical oncology Dr Rachel Dear of St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney. The trial will be conducted at The Kinghorn Cancer Centre in Darlinghurst.

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DeadlyScience and Merck to bring physics, chemistry, and biology experiments to young Indigenous scientists

Merck, a leading science and technology company, is proud to support DeadlyScience’s new program DeadlyLab to create STEM learning kits for students in remote areas. The kits will explore chemistry, physics, and biology with experiments based in Indigenous science.

DeadlyScience was founded in 2019 by proud Kamilaroi man Corey Tutt OAM, and has delivered more than 20,000 books, 500 telescopes and countless other learning tools to students in remote communities.

Now, Merck and DeadlyScience are partnering with Indigenous communities, Elders, and Indigenous subject-matter experts to create experiments, complete with worksheets and video tutorials, that can be used in school classrooms or at home.

“We work with hundreds of remote schools, who collectively have more than 28,000 students. Over 75% are Indigenous.

“We want to get them engaged with science, help them learn with play and hands-on experience, and show them Indigenous scientists. You can’t be what you can’t see,” says Corey.

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‘Sharkskin’ makes planes faster, smoother, cheaper

A sharkskin-inspired coating on planes will save thousands of dollars per flight and slash carbon emissions, says Aussie start-up, MicroTau.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) today announces a $5.6 million investment in MicroTau’s ‘sharkskin’ technology developed with the help of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF).

Sharks famously swim smoothly and quietly, helped by their unique skin with thousands of overlapping layers of tiny ‘scales’ or denticles to reduce their drag in the water.

Mimicking this structure on airplanes reduces turbulence, increases flying speed, and cuts fuel emissions and cost. Unfortunately, it is excruciatingly difficult to replicate the microscopic grooves and bumps with traditional manufacturing.

MicroTau have solved this puzzle using specialist laser manufacturing technology to rapidly produce the shark skin pattern in a light-curable material onto large, self-adhesive patches. Today’s funding announcement will allow them to scale-up manufacturing and grow their team of scientists, engineers, and business development specialists.

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Stem-cell models reveal glaucoma secrets

Australian researchers uncover hidden genetic markers of glaucoma.

Stem cell models of the retina and optical nerve have been used to identify previously unknown genetic markers of glaucoma, in research jointly led by scientists from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, the University of Melbourne, and the Centre for Eye Research Australia. The findings open the door to new treatment for glaucoma, which is the world’s leading cause of permanent blindness.

“We saw how the genetic causes of glaucoma act in single cells, and how they vary in different people. Current treatments can only slow the loss of vision, but this understanding is the first step towards drugs that target individual cell types,” says Professor Joseph Powell, joint lead author at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

The research, published in the journal Cell Genomics, comes out of a long-running collaboration between Australian medical research centres to use stem-cell models to uncover the underlying genetic causes of complicated diseases.

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