All posts by Toni Stevens

Filtering the blood to keep cancer in check

A new diagnostic system used to detect cancer cells in small blood samples could next be turned towards filtering a patient’s entire system to remove those dangerous cells – like a dialysis machine for cancer – says an Australian researcher who helped develop the system.

The technique was developed for cancer diagnosis, and is capable of detecting (and removing) a tiny handful of cancer-spreading cells from amongst the billions of healthy cells in a small blood sample.

The revolutionary system, which works to diagnose cancer at a tenth of the cost of competing technologies, is now in clinical trials in the US, UK, Singapore and Australia, and is in the process of being commercialised by Clearbridge BioMedics PteLtd in Singapore.

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Can sunshine help prevent pneumonia?

The possibility of a link between vitamin D deficiency and pneumonia is being investigated in two studies by Indonesian and Australian scientists in Indonesia.

They’re tracking the incidence and severity in early childhood of respiratory tract infections, including the common cold, asthma, pneumonia, and bronchiolitis, in hospitals and the community, in the hope of providing more information for treatment and management for respiratory diseases.

A post-delivery mother with a midwife, after cord blood has been collected
A mother and her newborn with a midwife, after cord blood has been collected. Credit: Mr Noor Qodri H

Pneumonia is the number one killer of children under five in the country, and around six million young Indonesians suffer from it each year, according to a 2008 study. This collaboration is going to update those 2008 figures, and hopefully lower them – while trying to find the causes of it and other respiratory tract infections. Continue reading Can sunshine help prevent pneumonia?

Power to the islands

Over sixty-five million Indonesians live off the grid. But what does that mean in the era of micro-grids, batteries and efficient solar panels? And how do communities change with 24/7 energy?

Providing reliable electric power is one of the keys to unlocking the potential of the remote islands and landlocked areas of Indonesia and of Australia’s north, a priority for both countries.

But there’s much more to it than installing the right mix of technologies. Bringing night-time activity, television, the internet and smart machines within the reach of people who have never had access to them before involves huge, potentially disruptive changes to their daily lives, their economic and political relationships, their whole culture.

Access to new technologies may have huge impacts on behaviour. Credit: Max Richter
Access to new technologies may have huge impacts on behaviour. Credit: Max Richter

A team of Australian and Indonesian scientists and social scientists is coming to grips with the scope of the problem by studying two sites in Indonesia where a start has already been made on introducing electricity. The seed project is financed by the Australia Indonesia Centre. 

Continue reading Power to the islands