EMBL Australia is finding the secrets of cancer and the immune system hiding in the numbers
From his lab at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), Irish-born researcher David Lynn is combining computational and big data analysis with experimental approaches to unpicking biological networks at the molecular level.
Continue reading Big data for life
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
Sonar and satellites reveal the fish and other creatures that live far below the surface
The depths of the ocean still hold great mysteries. At depths between 200 and 1000 metres live creatures that, taken altogether, weigh as much as 10 billion tonnes.
Rudy Kloser, an expert on echo sounding and deep-sea ecosystems at CSIRO in Hobart, says these creatures are vital but poorly understood.
Continue reading Spying on the denizens of the Southern Ocean
Brussels to Sydney in less than three hours
A passenger jet could one day fly halfway around the world in just a few hours. That’s the goal of the HEXAFLY project (High-speed Experimental FLY): going beyond the supersonic realm pioneered by the now-defunct Concorde to reach hypersonic speeds more than five times as fast as sound.
Led by the European Space Agency, the project has now brought on international collaborators to prepare for an early stage test flight planned for 2020.
Continue reading Hypersonic travel
South Australian winemakers are looking to Europe as the climate – and what drinkers want – is changing
Grapes don’t ripen the way they used to. As temperatures climb, they are getting sweeter faster.
Winemakers find that by the time the crop achieves the right colour or level of tannins, the grapes contain more sugar. More sugar means heavier, more alcoholic wine. At the same time, drinkers are preferring lighter wines.
Dr Roberta De Bei is trialling countermeasures to delay ripening at the University of Adelaide, where she has worked as a research fellow in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine since she left Italy in 2008.
Continue reading Making wine in a warming world
Australian-made mirrors are helping the Mediterranean nation of Cyprus move to renewable energy and secure its supply of drinking water.
Though Cyprus is blessed with plentiful sunshine, rainfall is low and the country depends on energy-intensive desalination plants for its drinking water.
Continue reading Australian mirrors helping to power Cyprus
The first accurate 3D map of our galaxy reveals its true shape: warped and twisted.
Astronomers from Macquarie University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have used 1339 ‘standard’ stars to map the real shape of our home galaxy in a paper published in Nature Astronomy today.
They found the Milky Way’s disc of stars becomes increasingly ‘warped’ and twisted the further away the stars are from the galaxy’s centre.
Continue reading The Milky Way is warped
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