New Guinea is one of the only places in the world where frogs are safe from the species-destroying chytrid fungus. An international team of scientists has published a new paper that shows how to keep it that way, but they need help to carry out their plan.
The chytrid fungus has wiped out more than 90 frog species around the world, and it’s driving hundreds more towards extinction. New Guinea – the world’s largest tropical island, and home to 6% of all known frog species – is one of the last remaining refuges from the deadly infection.
A team of scientists led by researchers from Macquarie University and the University of New England in Australia think they know how to keep the island’s frogs safe, but they need support to establish a long-term program of monitoring and conservation.
Continue reading A safe haven for frogs in a sea of extinctions
You can learn a lot about hearts by trying to build one from scratch. A pair of scientists have grown ‘beating’ human heart muscle tissue from stem cells and are exploring cardiac regeneration.
Developmental biologist Associate Professor Enzo Porrello became interested in how newborn mammal hearts can regenerate while working in Dallas, Texas at one of the leading labs researching heart development.
Associate Professor James Hudson has a background in chemical and biological engineering. In Germany, he developed bioengineering techniques to make force-generating human heart tissue at the University Medical Center in Göttingen. Continue reading Fixing hearts by finding out what makes them tick
The brain’s specialist cleaning cells play a key role in neurodegenerative diseases, and they may also hold the secret to new treatments for the likes of MS and Alzheimer’s.
Professor Colin Pouton and his team at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences found a way to isolate microglia, the immune cells of the brain, from stem cells. Better yet, they made the cells fluorescent so their activity can be tracked, opening up new avenues of research.
Professor Trevor Kilpatrick and his colleagues at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health think Colin’s engineered cells just might be the key to creating a revolutionary treatment for multiple sclerosis. Continue reading Enlisting the brain’s immune cells to fight MS
Since its creation in 2011, the Stem Cells Australia initiative has increased our understanding of how to control and use stem cells in research. Our members have placed Australia at the forefront of stem cell medicine, and now we are developing new diagnostic, therapeutic and biological applications that will transform healthcare in the years and decades ahead.
Today, Stem Cells Australia members are:
Our researchers are learning about how the heart forms so they can identify drugs to stimulate heart repair and improve function; they are analysing big data to predict how cells behave and create custom immune cells; they are helping patients with damaged corneas see again using grafts made from their own stem cells; and much more.
Many of these achievements rely on large interdisciplinary teams from across Australia. Continue reading Tomorrow’s medicine starts today – Stem Cells Australia
Gene editing technology combined with stem cells provides a powerful new way to study genetic kidney diseases and their treatments.
Melbourne researchers have used mini-kidney ‘organoids’ grown in the lab to unravel the mystery of why Mainzer-Saldino syndrome, a rare disease involving a single defective gene, causes life-threatening kidney damage. In doing so, they’ve proven an approach that can be used to study a whole range of other genetic kidney diseases. Continue reading Mini-kidneys tell two sides of a genetic story
An Aussie eucalypt can ‘remember’ past exposure to extreme heat, which makes the tree and its offspring better able to cope with future heatwaves, according to new research from Macquarie University.
This finding could have important implications for restoring ecosystems and climate-proofing forestry, as the number of hot days and heatwaves increase due to climate change.
“Unlike animals, which can bury deeper into the soil or flee to cooler locations, plants are stuck in one spot and so must be able to withstand extreme conditions in situ,” says Dr Rachael Gallagher, senior author of the paper published in the journal Functional Ecology.
Continue reading Trees remember heatwaves
For a long time, doctors and patients have dreamed of precision oncology, a process that allows specific, effective treatments for individual tumours.
In the past, the complex nature of tumours has made this impossible.
“Within a tumour, there are many different cell populations, each doing different things and behaving in different ways. Most cells will be killed by chemotherapy, but some are not,” says Associate Professor Frederic Hollande of The University of Melbourne.
Continue reading The hunt for shapeshifting cancer cells
Cane toads are picking up some shady habits, according to a new study co-authored by a Macquarie University researcher.
Toads in Western Australia have been spotted awake and active during the day in deeply shaded habitats, despite the species usually being nocturnal in Australia and other parts of the world.
However nearby cane toad populations at more exposed sites remained only active at night.
Continue reading Cane toads: what they do in the shadows
Males have to make less of an effort to mate with promiscuous female fruit flies, making the quality and quantity of their semen all the more important in the competition to fertilise the females’ eggs.
This also leads to male flies repeatedly mating with the same female, according to a paper published last week in Nature Communications, by researchers from Macquarie University, the University of Oxford and the University of East Anglia, who looked into the eyes of thousands of fruit flies.
Continue reading Promiscuous females and their role in evolution
Researchers have identified over 5,700 new proteins in rice and are calling for a global effort to find the remaining missing proteins, in a new study co-authored by Macquarie University.
The international team of scientists from Australia, Iran and Japan say there’s an estimated 35,000 proteins encoded by the rice genome, and yet we still don’t have experimental evidence for 82 per cent of them.
This is important because rice is the major food source for more than half the world’s population, and in order for it to grow in warmer climates and with less water we will need to better understand rice at the molecular level. Continue reading The quest for the missing proteins in rice