Fresh Science is a national competition helping early-career researchers find, and then share, their stories of discovery.

More at: freshscience.org.au

One step closer to understanding cancer-fighting immune cells

Researchers discover that protective immune cells are not created equally 

Susan Christo, The Peter Doherty Institute & The University of Melbourne

Personalised treatment of cancers has moved one step closer, thanks to University of Melbourne researcher Dr Susan Christo.

Increasingly, cancers are being treated using an approach called immunotherapy – which uses a patient’s own immune cells to fight the disease.

Continue reading One step closer to understanding cancer-fighting immune cells

Whooping cough is fighting back.

Image credit: Pixabay 

Researchers discover how whooping cough is evolving paving the way to a new vaccine.

Laurence Luu, The University of New South Wales

Whooping cough strains are adapting to better infect humans, a team of Sydney researchers has found.

The scientists, led by microbiologist Dr Laurence Luu of the University of New South Wales, may have solved the mystery of why, despite widespread vaccinations, the respiratory disease has been resurgent in Australia across the past decade. There have been more than 200,000 cases recorded during the period.

Continue reading Whooping cough is fighting back.

Is that plant healthy?

Image credit: David Coto, Pexels

Karina Khambatta from Curtin University

We can’t easily monitor the health of plants, by the time we see that they’re sick it’s usually too late to save that. That’s an issue for your house plants, a field of wheat, orchards and plantations.

Karina Khambatta has developed a way to use the waxy surface of leaves to monitor their health.

Continue reading Is that plant healthy?

Protecting Tiwi wildlife is a hollow argument

Climbing trees reveals a housing shortage for tree-rats and other endangered animals.

Cara Penton, Charles Darwin University

Estimates of tree hollows – which form the houses of several endangered species in northern Australia – are much too high, researchers at Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory have found.

And the discovery could be bad news for several of Australia’s most vulnerable species, including the Black-Footed Tree-Rat (Mesembriomys gouldii) and Brush Tailed Rabbit-Rat (Conilurus penicillatus).

Continue reading Protecting Tiwi wildlife is a hollow argument

Cheaper, more efficient lithium sulfur battery outperforms current electric car battery fourfold

An “Expansion-Tolerant” Architecture offers stability to ultra-high capacity Lithium-Sulfur battery

Mahdokht Shaibani, Monash University

A lithium sulfur battery that has four times the capacity than existing electric car batteries has been built and tested by researchers at Monash University, revealed in a paper published in Science Advances.

This would allow you to drive Melbourne to Sydney with just one charge – driving the coastal route. A current edition prius would require to stop in Albury-Wodonga to recharge.

Continue reading Cheaper, more efficient lithium sulfur battery outperforms current electric car battery fourfold

Peanut Allergy: a pain in the guts

Image credit: Pixabay

Deakin researcher discovers allergy mechanism.

Dwan Price from Deakin University

Peanut allergens cross a model of the gut lining, causing it to leak, new research by Dr Dwan Price from Deakin University in Victoria has revealed.

The allergens hijack the transport mechanisms of cells in the intestine, disrupting the bonds that hold the gut lining together, making it permeable.

Continue reading Peanut Allergy: a pain in the guts

Stopping poaching by the numbers

Image credit: Pixabay

Maths model helps rangers protect national parks, despite tight budgets.

David Arnold, Macquarie University

Mathematics can help reduce poaching and illegal logging in national parks, researchers have found.

A team of applied mathematicians including Macquarie University’s David Arnold has developed an algorithm that predicts which areas inside park boundaries offer the greatest possibilities for criminals – and how rangers can most efficiently combat them.

Continue reading Stopping poaching by the numbers

Hunting molecules that signal pain

Image credit: Jim De Ramos

Researchers close in on an objective measure for physical distress.

Lindsay Parker, Macquarie University

A new microscope-based method for detecting a particular molecule in the spinal cord could help lead to an accurate and independent universal pain scale, research from Australia’s Macquarie University suggests.

An accurate way of measuring pain is of critical importance because at present degrees of discomfort are generally assessed by asking a patient to estimate pain on a one-to-10 scale. The situation is even more acute in the treatment of babies, the very old and animals, where speech is absent.

Continue reading Hunting molecules that signal pain

Device makes electric vehicle charging a two-way street

Image Credit: @mikebirdy /Pexels

New tech means cars can power houses, as well as the other way round.

Seyedfoad Taghizadeh, Macquarie University

A new device turns electric vehicles into chargers for houses and stranded cars.

Researchers led by Seyedfoad Taghizadeh from Australia’s Macquarie University are looking to commercialise the technology, which may significantly increase the appeal of the vehicles.

Continue reading Device makes electric vehicle charging a two-way street

Sugar found to boost lethal bacteria

Image credit: Vikrant Minhas

Adelaide researchers find how a bacteria digests a sugar can be key to new treatments

Vikrant Minhas, University of Adelaide

The severity of a common and often lethal type of bacteria depends on its ability to process a type of sugar, research from the University of Adelaide reveals.

Streptococcus pneumoniae causes diseases of the lungs, blood, ear and brain, killing an estimated one million people every year. Moreover S. pneumoniae causes otitis media (infection of the middle ear), which devastates Aboriginal populations. It also rapidly develops resistance to antibiotics, making it challenging to treat.

Continue reading Sugar found to boost lethal bacteria