2007

2007 Fresh Scientist Tu’uhevaha Kaitu’u-Lino has won the 2009 Cosmopolitan Fun, Fearless, Female, Women of Science – and a $10,000 cheque. [click to continue…]

As we slip, slop, slap, to reduce the risk of skin cancer, some of us are no longer getting enough Vitamin D and babies are again being born with rickets.

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Within 6 months of heart disease surgery, up to 60% of patients suffer from their arteries reblocking.

Queensland scientists have discovered a way to precisely deliver drugs to blockage sites in the arteries – preventing complications after surgery to treat heart disease according to developer Anita Thomas and her colleagues at the University of Queensland.

The technique uses antibodies linked to the drugs to ensure they are deposited in the arteries where doctors want them, rather than in other places in the body where they can lead have unacceptable side-effects.

Cardiovascular diseases-which can lead to heart attack, angina and stroke-are the biggest single preventable killer in the developed world, and result in the deaths of at least 17 million people each year.

Most of these diseases are due to a single cause, the blockage of arteries by cholesterol-rich thickenings.

“Surgical techniques have been developed to remove these blockages, but in up to 60% of patients they re-occur within six months,” says Thomas, a post-doctoral fellow at the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

“We thought we could use drugs to prevent this from happening, but they have to be carefully targeted.”

Thomas and Prof Julie Campbell observed that the protein fibrin, which is found in blood clots, is deposited in arteries within 10 minutes of surgery to remove the original blockage.

They then confirmed that fibrin could be used to attract antibodies, which they linked to drugs to prevent the artery from becoming re-blocked.

The targeted delivery of these drugs was effective in preventing re-blocking, Thomas found.

It also stopped the drug being dispersed within the blood stream. Because the drug is concentrated where it is of most value, it can be used in low doses with minimal side-effects. And it also promotes rapid healing of the lining of the blood vessel, a significant benefit.

Various parts of the treatment are already being tested. Anita believes that with a little bit more tweaking, we should see the treatment in hospitals within five years.

Anita Thomas is one of 16 early-career scientists presenting their research to the public for the first time thanks to Fresh Science, a national program sponsored by the Federal and Victorian Governments.

 Photos

  • Click on photo for higher resolution.
  • Photo credit: Robert Campbell
   
   
Anita performing surgical manipulations on blood vessels in a kidney. Anita with some samples in the lab. High res available on request.Photo credit:  Jeremy Patten, The University of Queensland.
 
Anita with some samples in the lab. High res available on request.Photo credit:  Jeremy Patten, The University of Queensland.  

Healing without scars and more effective therapy for women with period problems-those are possibilities raised by the research of Tu’uhevaha Kaitu’u-Lino (Tu’hu for short pron Tu hay) at Prince Henry’s Institute and Monash University.

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Doctoral student Jacqueline Burgess from La Trobe University has identified odour molecules associated with the small brown stomach worm.

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Some forms of noise can actually improve your hearing, University of South Australia researcher, Mark McDonnell has found.

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Studies by University of Adelaide doctoral student Cadence Minge have shown that a high fat diet can cause damage to eggs in ovaries. And when fertilised, these eggs do not develop into normal, healthy embryos.

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Edwina Sutton and colleagues at the University of Adelaide have been busily turning female mice into males.

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Australian orchids are engaged in an arms race, using sensory overload to seduce male insects.

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Little ripples, big swirl

16 August 2007

in 2007

How mini-earthquakes and tornados could one day be saving lives

Monash University engineer Leslie Yeo is using tiny earthquakes and tornados to assist the detection of biohazards and germ warfare. He and collaborator James Friend at the Micro/Nanophysics Research Laboratory hope to integrate their technology into an inexpensive, credit-card-sized sensor within five to ten years.

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 Bluefin tuna use three times as much oxygen as other fish their size, making them more difficult to culture. That’s just part of the valuable information uncovered by University of Adelaide PhD student, Quinn Fitzgibbon and his colleagues in a study where they monitored live tuna swimming inside a 350-tonne “waterbed”.

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Warfare between bacteria could provide an environmentally friendly solution to biofouling, according to Dhana Rao and her colleagues at the University of NSW.

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How sea slugs fall in love

14 August 2007

in 2007

Scott Cummins and his colleagues at The University of Queensland have uncovered a potent mix of chemicals which acts like a cross between Chanel No 5 and Viagra-but only if you are a sea slug.

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Fats trigger immune defence

14 August 2007

in 2007

Synchrotron light delivers Nature paper for young scientist

Natalie Borg and colleagues from Monash and Melbourne universities have shown for the first time how the body’s immune defence system can be triggered by fats, sugars and other biological compounds, not just by proteins. The research, published recently in Nature, opens the way to potential new treatments for whole areas of disease such as infections, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile-onset diabetes and some types of cancer.

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If you think that the idea of a morning person or an evening person is nonsense, then postgraduate student Martin Sale and his colleagues from the University of Adelaide have news for you.

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