Women at scientific forefront awarded new VESKI Innovation Fellowships

VESKI – Victorian Endowment for Science, Knowledge and Innovation – has awarded its latest Innovative Fellowships to two outstanding woman scientists.

VESKI was established with a $10 million endowment from the Victorian Government to entice talented expatriates home.

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Whiplash: who won’t get better?

MRI scan showing fat infiltration into neck muscle. Credit: James Elliot, University of Queensland
MRI scan showing fat infiltration into neck muscle. Credit: James Elliot, University of Queensland

Most people recover from whiplash injuries within the first few months. However, some people have long term pain—lasting months or years. Until now there has been no way of diagnosing these more severe cases.

New research suggests that fat deposits in the neck muscles are the key.

“We’ve found that people with long term injury have large amounts of fat infiltration in their neck muscles,” says Dr James Elliott from the University of Queensland (and former US professional baseball player). “Something is causing that difference, and it isn’t their body weight,” he says.

Vaccine hope for shellfish allergies

Researchers are working with prawns in the search for a shellfish allergy vaccine. Credit: RMIT
Researchers are working with prawns in the search for a shellfish allergy vaccine. Credit: RMIT

A new oral vaccine against shellfish allergies is being developed by researchers at RMIT University.

Assoc. Prof. Andreas Lopata and his team in RMIT’s School of Applied Sciences are working to help find a different method for vaccination against the potentially deadly allergy.

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Womb of life

Womb stem cells could help regenerate a diseased liver.
Womb stem cells could help regenerate a diseased liver.

What if the very thing that assists a fetus to grow in the womb could also prevent disease in a fully grown adult?

Monash Institute of Medical Research scientists have discovered that stem cells from the womb have the potential to treat inflammatory diseases such as lung fibrosis and liver cirrhosis in both children and adults.

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Tiny particles could assist in breast cancer screening

These optically barcoded nanoparticles could transform cancer diagnosis.
These optically barcoded nanoparticles could transform cancer diagnosis.

Blood tests using nanoparticles carrying molecules which can detect breast cancer biomarkers could save millions of lives and open the way to mass screening for many cancers.

Prof. Matt Trau, of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering & Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland, and his team are using a combination of nanotechnology and molecular biology in the project, funded by a five-year $5 million grant from the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

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A milk protein that encourages exercise?

Milk contains a protein that builds muscles in mice. Credit: Vicci Crowley-Clough
Milk contains a protein that builds muscles in mice. Credit: Vicci Crowley-Clough

Victorian scientists have discovered a milk protein with the potential to treat metabolic syndrome and chronic muscular and bone diseases.

The protein, when given daily to mice, caused them not only to build more muscle but also to want to exercise. The findings also showed an increase in muscle in mice not given exercise.

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Nano-magnets to guide drugs to their target

Nano-cricket balls of silver precisely engineered with defect using spinning disc processing.
Nano-cricket balls of silver precisely engineered with defect using spinning disc processing.

Microscopic magnets ferrying drugs through the bloodstream directly to diseased tissue are a new ‘green chemistry’ product which will improve health and the environment.

A team led by Prof. Colin Raston, of the University of Western Australia fabricated the nano ‘bullets’ which can be directed by an external magnetic field to specific parts of the body. The new technology will enable doctors to send the drugs directly to the disease site, leaving healthy tissue intact and minimising toxic side-effects.

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Australia’s place in the nanotechnology race

CSIRO_CliveD_GloveboxCSIRO researchers are applying nanotechnology to drug delivery, medical body imaging, nerve repair, smart textiles and clothing, medical devices, plastic solar cells (see From plastic money to plastic electricity) and much more.

“Nanotechnology is not an industry—it is an enabling technology,” says Clive Davenport, leader of CSIRO’s Future Manufacturing Flagship.

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