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A patented treatment could restore eyesight for millions of sufferers of corneal disease. The University of Melbourne–led team of researchers have grown corneal cells on a layer of film that can be implanted in the eye to help the cornea heal itself. They have successfully restored vision in animal trials and are aiming to move […]

Fresh Science is a national competition helping early-career researchers find, and then share, their stories of discovery.

The program takes up-and-coming researchers with no media experience and turns them into spokespeople for science, giving them a taste of life in the limelight, with a day of media training and a public event in their home state.

Fresh Science 2016 was held in Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and NSW.

Fresh Science nominations for 2017 will open mid-year. If you would like to partner with us on Fresh Science, please get in touch.

Take a look at the work of all our past Freshies.

Rocky asteroids were formed by collisions between giant, fairy floss-like dust clouds as our Solar System formed, according to planetary geologist Lucy Forman.

Lucy Forman

Lucy Forman

Working at Curtin University, Lucy used computer modelling to understand what happens when two fluffy clouds of space dust collide, calculating the resulting heat and pressure released between the dust particles.

And she confirmed the theory with physical proof by studying thin sections of an ancient, rocky meteorite that had fallen to Earth under an electron microscope.

In the slices of meteorite, Lucy found direct evidence of the heat and pressure her modelling had predicted in the way grains in the rock had bent and aligned, just as matchsticks in a pile on the floor would align if squeezed together.

The meteorite that Lucy studied fell in 1969, and is part of two tonnes of space rock known as the Allende meteorite after the town in Mexico where it fell.

Lucy found two different types of grain in the meteorite rock—large, round, marble-like grains, seemingly untouched by the effects of heat and pressure, surrounded by a matrix of very small grains that had been deformed by the heat and pressure of ancient collisions.

The matrix of small grey grains precisely matched the predictions of the computer modelling, which suggested the heat and pressure of collisions within dust clouds would be concentrated on regions that initially had lots of space around them.

The research has recently been published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Contact: Lucy Forman, Curtin University, 0497 840 193, lucy.forman@postgrad.curtin.edu.au

The secret life of gut bacteria

21 September 2016

in 2016, Vic

Jaclyn Pearson presenting at Fresh Science. Credit: Tom Rayner

Jaclyn Pearson presenting at Fresh Science. Credit: Tom Rayner

Melbourne researchers have shown how some gut bacteria use a needle-like system, like a syringe, to poke into the cells in our guts and pump in proteins that silence our immune system, leaving it unable to fight these bugs off.

Jaclyn Pearson from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne thinks this improved understanding of how gut bacteria, like Salmonella and E. coli, make us sick could lead to smarter and more effective treatments, and save lives.

Our immune system is complicated. Bacterial infections of the gut kill five to six million kids globally every year. But we still don’t really understand how those bacteria work.

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A researcher at Flinders University has developed a simple urine test that gives a quantitative measure of the severity of motor neurone disease.

Stephanie

Stephanie Shepheard

Up until now, the search for effective treatments has been hampered by the lack of direct measurement techniques. Researchers have depended on a questionnaire that asks how well the patient can perform everyday tasks.

“I found a protein in urine that is elevated in motor neurone disease, and which increases as the disease progresses,” says researcher Stephanie Shepheard.

Working in both human and animal motor neurone disease, Stephanie identified that the protein p75NTRECD can easily be measured in urine, and provides a direct assessment of disease severity.

“This protein could allow doctors to monitor damage in motor neurone disease in a more specific way,” says Stephanie.

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