Immune boost for cancer patients with HIV

Cancer is the leading cause of death among people with HIV and yet cancer treatment can be risky as their immune system is already compromised.

Now, a new class of drugs developed at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales is providing hope—demonstrating it is effective in treating the cancer and strengthening the immune response to that cancer.

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Eyes, hearts, bionic spines—partners in new health technologies

Across America lives have been improved by Australian inventions—the cervical cancer vaccine, the bionic eye, gum that repairs tooth decay. What’s next?

Extended wear contact lenses for healthier eyes

Some 30 million Americans use contact lenses. Today they can wear a single pair for up to 30 consecutive days and nights, safely and comfortably thanks to the work of CIBA Vision and CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.

Contact lenses were once rigid and had to be taken out every night. In 1991, a team of researchers from CSIRO, the University of New South Wales, and the Vision Cooperative Research Centre joined forces with CIBA Vision in the US, and Novartis in Switzerland, to create a better contact lens.

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Protecting phones, robots and governments—partners in cybersecurity

Your smartphone’s Wi-Fi connections are fast and reliable thanks to the work of Australian astronomers in the 1990s.

Today, your phone is also being protected from cyberattacks by Australian software that works within the kernel of the phone’s operating system to protect it from hacking and software faults. The kernel is the most fundamental part of an operating system. It acts between the hardware and the applications.

Now Australian researchers are working to secure America’s growing fleets of autonomous machines, with ‘microkernel’ software known as seL4.

The new software is built on the work of researchers at the University of New South Wales and National ICT Australia (now CSIRO’s Data61 Group).

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How we imagine the future

Dr Muireann Irish discovered which parts of our brain are essential to imagine the future, ranging from simple things like “I must remember my keys and my wallet” to imagining complex events such as “my next holiday”.

Muireann’s work will inform the development of activities for dementia patients that will improve their quality of life. Credit: L’Oréal Australia
Muireann’s work will inform the development of activities for dementia patients that will improve their quality of life. Credit: L’Oréal Australia

And she’s shown that people with dementia don’t just lose the ability to remember the past, they also lose the ability to envisage the future.

While working at Neuroscience Research Australia and the University of New South Wales, Muireann has demonstrated that patients with dementia are unable to imagine future events or to engage in future-oriented forms of memory, and she has revealed the key brain regions that support these complex functions.

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Add colour for 10 times more gas

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Matthew Lee (left) and Mike (right) injecting nutrients into a coal seam 80 metres below ground. Credit: Sabrina Beckmann

Adding a simple textile dye can increase the methane yield of coal seam gas wells by a factor of 10, researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have found.

The discovery could breathe new life into old, exhausted wells, reducing the need for new ones.

It could also improve the economics of renewable biogas energy production.

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Shedding ‘spooky’ light on unbreakable security

‘Perfect entanglement’ of two light beams has opened a major step towards highly secure quantum communication systems.

The University of Queensland’s Professor Tim Ralph and his colleagues from Canada and Russia have developed a technique to restore entangled light beams that have been distributed between distant points.

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Hoarding disorder: why is it hard to part with stuff?

“I’m fascinated by why people love objects so much,” says Dr Melissa Norberg, Director of the Behavioural Science Laboratory at Macquarie University.

Melissa wants to know what makes objects so appealing. Credit: Chris Stacey, Macquarie University
Melissa wants to know what makes objects so appealing. Credit: Chris Stacey, Macquarie University

“What is it about the items (or the person) that makes objects so appealing?”

While we’re all guilty of holding on to a few sentimental things, Melissa’s interest is in studying those who meet the criteria for hoarding disorder.

With Associate Professor Jessica Grisham at the University of New South Wales, Melissa has been investigating how mood affects peoples’ ability to throw things out.

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Build it and they will come – chip design creates computer blueprint

The design of a 3D silicon chip architecture clears another hurdle in the international race to build quantum computers.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have designed a chip based on single atom quantum bits, creating a blueprint for building a large-scale silicon quantum computer.

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The water beneath our feet

Subterranean caves in the Blue Mountains have been

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Measuring infiltration water in the Wombeyan Caves, New South Wales. Credit: Andrew Baker

converted into observatories to quantify how water moves through buried rock structures into groundwater.

Groundwater forms the world’s largest active repository of fresh water—more than a hundred times larger than rivers and lakes combined.

To use that groundwater resource sustainably, we need to know that we are only using as much water as is being continually replaced, mostly via rainfall and underground leakage from rivers.

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Sending quantum information around the world

Sending quantum messages over long distances will be challenging. The signal will have to be amplified every few hundred kilometres, but conventional optical amplification would destroy the quantum message.

In a quantum information system, if you measure the light, you will destroy the information encoded on it. You need to store the light itself.

“We have to catch and store the light, but we’re not allowed to look at it to see what information it contains. If the system is working, the light will be exactly the same when we let it out again. We do this by absorbing the light into a cloud of atoms,” says Dr Ben Buchler.

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