Tag Archives: University of Queensland

From sky to hospital

Working together to create advanced manufacturing industries

The maiden flight of the COMAC C919 airliner in May 2017 illustrated China’s ambition in advanced manufacturing.

Many of the airliner’s parts are made using 3D printing, and Australian engineers are working with their Chinese colleagues to develop the technology further.

Continue reading From sky to hospital

Fixing hearts by finding out what makes them tick

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

Studying heart development one cell at a time

Examining how individual heart cells develop is revealing how the cells make decisions to form a working heart.

Once an adult heart is damaged, it has no ability to heal itself. Dr Nathan Palpant at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland and Associate Professor Joseph Powell at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the University of New South Wales are trying to understand how that might be changed by tracking individual stem cells along their journey to becoming heart cells.

“Heart development is a difficult and complicated process, but we think the answers to heart repair are likely to lie in understanding heart development,” Nathan says. “So we are using stem cells to model development as it occurs in our bodies.” Continue reading Studying heart development one cell at a time

How reprogramming cells turns back time

For the past decade scientists have been able to reprogram skin cells, nasal cells and other mature cells to become pluripotent stem cells that can turn into any cell type in the human body. How it works is only starting to become clear.

Teams led by Professors Ryan Lister at the University of Western Australia, Jose Polo at Monash University and Ernst Wolvetang at The University of Queensland are working together to understand how this process occurs, whether all cell types follow the same path to becoming pluripotent cells, and if this impacts their ability to mimic disease in the laboratory.

Through a series of collaborations over the last ten years the scientists have uncovered a number of stem cell secrets, opening the door for more targeted research and, ultimately, treatments for diseases. Continue reading How reprogramming cells turns back time

Are memories stored in DNA?

The idea that long-term memory might be stored in our brain’s DNA is being tested by Professor Geoff Faulkner, using brains affected by Alzheimer’s.

Geoff has already shown that the DNA in our brains is different to the DNA in the rest of our bodies and that it changes as we learn. He’s proposing that these changes are associated with how we store our long-term memories.

More recently, he’s linked these differences to the function of genes in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory and spatial navigation, and has been implicated in memory loss with ageing, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. Continue reading Are memories stored in DNA?

The hidden reef made of giant algae doughnuts

A hidden reef exists behind the Great Barrier Reef—but it’s three times bigger than previously thought, constructed by algae, and made up of doughnut-shaped mounds.

Uncovering the true scale of the 6,000 km2 structure was made possible by airborne laser mapping technology LiDAR, provided by the Royal Australian Navy.

It has implications for the Great Barrier Reef’s habitat mapping and conservation zoning, as well as providing possible insights into past climates.

Continue reading The hidden reef made of giant algae doughnuts

After 160 years, it’s time to throw away the needle and syringe

Professor Mark Kendall is planning to dispatch the 160-year-old needle and syringe to history. He’s invented a new vaccine technology that’s painless, uses a fraction of the dose, puts the vaccine just under the skin, and doesn’t require a fridge.

The Nanopatch is a 1 cm square piece of silicon with 20,000 microscopic needles engineered on one side. Coat the needles with dry vaccine, push it gently but firmly against the skin, and the vaccine is delivered just under the outer layer of skin.

It’s a technology he invented in response to a call from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seeking ideas for delivery of vaccines in developing countries—where it’s a challenge to keep conventional wet vaccines cold to the point of delivery.

Continue reading After 160 years, it’s time to throw away the needle and syringe

Modern humans were in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than previously thought

Dating of ancient human teeth discovered in a Sumatran cave site suggests modern humans were in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than previously thought.

The international research, led by Dr Kira Westaway from Macquarie University and published in Nature, has pushed back the timing of when humans first left Africa, their arrival in Southeast Asia, and the first time they lived in rainforests.

Continue reading Modern humans were in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than previously thought

Conservation that works for governments, communities, and orangutans

The three nations that share the island of Borneo— Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei—could retain half the land as forest, provide adequate habitat for the orangutan and Bornean elephant, and achieve an opportunity cost saving of over $50 billion.

The findings, by a research team led by The University of Queensland with members in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Europe, were published in Nature Communications in 2015.

Continue reading Conservation that works for governments, communities, and orangutans

Identifying the Bali bombers; testing for bird flu; and better selection of anti-malarial drugs

Testing for flu, malarial drug resistance, and identifying the Bali bombers are all outcomes of an Australia-Indonesia medical research initiative that begun in 1997 and continues today.

The original Australia-Indonesia Medical Research Initiative agreement between the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) in Melbourne and the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta was conceived and funded by the Indonesian Minister of Research and Technology and the Australian Government, and designed to boost the capacity of the Indonesian labs while enabling more transfer of ideas and skills between the two countries.

Continue reading Identifying the Bali bombers; testing for bird flu; and better selection of anti-malarial drugs