Monthly Archives: November 2016

Optical fibre probe aims to aid breast cancer surgery

Erik Shartner Low Res Edit 007930 November 2016:

Exciting translational work by CNBP researchers (project leader Dr Erik Schartner pictured left) has resulted in the development of an optical fibre probe that distinguishes breast cancer tissue from normal tissue – potentially allowing surgeons to be much more precise when removing breast cancer. The work has just been reported in the journal ‘Cancer Research’ and is accessible online.

Journal: Cancer Research.

Title: Cancer Detection in Human Tissue Samples Using a Fiber-Tip pH Probe.

Authors: Erik P. Schartner, Matthew R. Henderson, Malcolm Purdey, Deepak Dhatrak, Tanya M. Monro, P. Grantley Gill and David F. Callen.

Intraoperative detection of tumorous tissue is an important unresolved issue for cancer surgery. Difficulty in differentiating between tissue types commonly results in the requirement for additional surgeries to excise unremoved cancer tissue or alternatively in the removal of excess amounts of healthy tissue. Although pathologic methods exist to determine tissue type during surgery, these methods can compromise postoperative pathology, have a lag of minutes to hours before the surgeon receives the results of the tissue analysis, and are restricted to excised tissue. In this work, we report the development of an optical fiber probe that could potentially find use as an aid for margin detection during surgery. A fluorophore-doped polymer coating is deposited on the tip of an optical fiber, which can then be used to record the pH by monitoring the emission spectra from this dye. By measuring the tissue pH and comparing with the values from regular tissue, the tissue type can be determined quickly and accurately. The use of a novel lift-and-measure technique allows for these measurements to be performed without influence from the inherent autofluorescence that commonly affects fluorescence-based measurements on biological samples. The probe developed here shows strong potential for use during surgery, as the probe design can be readily adapted to a low-cost portable configuration, which could find use in the operating theater. Use of this probe in surgery either on excised or in vivo tissue has the potential to improve success rates for complete removal of cancers.


Centre researchers at Biosensor Symposium

guozhen_liu30 November 2016:

CNBP Research Fellows, Associate Professor Guozhen Liu (pictured), Dr Lindsay Parker and Dr Sabrina Heng have undertaken talks at the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Melbourne as part of a Biosensor Symposium, Wednesday 30th November, 2016.

Talks were as follows:

Guozhen Liu – Biophotonic Tools for Cytokine Sensing: From an on-cell surface ELISA to a spatial ELISA device.

Lindsay Parker – Biosensors and glycoproteins: linking nanoscience to neuroscience.

Sabrina Heng – Reversible Sensing with a Flip of the Switch.

The symposium shone a  spotlight on multidisciplinary research into developing, applying and using biosensors for biomedical sciences.

A step towards bio-inspired quantum interferometers

Jingxian Yu_low_sq29 November 2016:

CNBP researchers (lead author Jingxian Yu pictured), have published a paper exploring the quantum interference effects on electronic transport in peptides. The work has just been reported in the journal ‘Molecular Systems Design & Engineering’ and is accessible online.

Journal: Molecular Systems Design & Engineering.

Title: Exploiting the interplay of quantum interference and backbone rigidity on electronic transport in peptides: A step towards bio-inspired quantum interferometers.

Authors: Jingxian Yu, John R Horsley and Andrew D Abell.

Abstract: Electron transfer in peptides provides an opportunity to mimic nature for applications in bio-inspired molecular electronics. However, quantum interference effects, which become significant at the molecular level, have yet to be addressed in this context. Electrochemical and theoretical studies are reported on a series of cyclic and linear peptides of both β-strand and helical conformation, to address this shortfall and further realize the potential of peptides in molecular electronics. The introduction of a side-bridge into the peptides provides both additional rigidity to the backbone, and an alternative pathway for electron transport. Electronic transport studies reveal an interplay between quantum interference and vibrational fluctuations. We utilize these findings to demonstrate two distinctive peptide-based quantum interferometers, one exploiting the tunable effects of quantum interference (β-strand) and the other regulating the interplay between the two phenomena (310-helix).

Director speaks at scientific meeting

Mark Hutchinson_1_low_sq29 November 2016:

Professor Mark Hutchinson (Director, CNBP) participated as a symposium presenter at the ASCEPT-MPGPCR Joint Scientific Meeting held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on 29 November 2016.

The symposium title was: Pharmacology of brain neurotransmission.

Professor Hutchinson’s presentation title was: Addiction and the brain: the role of the immune system.

Deputy Director presents at Wagga Wagga

Ewa Goldys Low Res Edit 015929 November 2016:

CNBP Deputy Director Prof Ewa Goldys has given a talk at the School of Biomedical Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga on her research success “A Eureka Moment for Cell Colour Technology.”

The talk results from Prof Goldys being awarded the recent Australian Museum Eureka Prize for ‘Innovative Use of Technology’.

Prof Goldys, together with Dr Martin Gosnell, developed a hyperspectral imaging technique that allows for the successful extraction of specific biomolecular information hidden in fluorescent colour signatures of living cells and tissues.

The talk examined the technology and the real world translational outcomes that will result from this exciting area of study that will support clinicians in making improved diagnosis and health decisions for patients.


Barbara Kidman Fellowship awarded

sanam Mustafa28 November 2016:

University of Adelaide and CNBP Researcher Dr Sanam Mustafa has been awarded a 2017 Barbara Kidman Fellowship.

The University of Adelaide Barbara Kidman Women’s Fellowship Scheme is designed to support female academics to enhance and promote their career. The Fellowships are named after Dr Barbara Kidman who, at the time (1940s and 1950s), defied society’s expectations of women in scientific roles.

The Fellowship offers opportunities to enhance, maintain or re-invigorate research momentum, as well as assist successful recipients in applying for, and assuming, enhanced roles in the near future.

Further information on the Fellowship is accessible online from the University of Adelaide web site.



New CNBP PhD student


CNBP welcomes its newest PhD student at Macquarie University – Fei Deng.

Fei is undertaking his PhD study on the development of a biosensor for cytokine testing and is being supervised by Centre Deputy Director Professor Ewa Goldys and A/Prof Guozhen Liu.

Fei gained his Master’s Degree this year at the Korea University of Technology and Education (the Department of Chemical Engineering) with his Bachelor Degree undertaken at Tianjin Polytechnic University (within the Department of Material Science and Engineering).

His research interests lie in the field of device design and biosensor materials synthesis, especially related to cytokines. And his background is primarily in materials science and engineering.

Great to have you on board Fei!


NeuRA Invited Seminar Series

Ewa Goldys Low Res Edit 015925 November 2016:

Professor Ewa Goldys, Deputy Director of the CNBP, has given an invited talk at the Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) Invited Lecture series, 25th November 2016, Sydney.

The talk was titled “A Eureka moment for cell colour technology” and explored the research behind Prof Goldys and her success in being awarded the 2016 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for ‘Innovative Use of Technology’.

Professor Goldys and her team were recognised for their innovative colour-focused research (and pioneering hyperspectral imaging technique), able to distinguish between healthy and diseased cells, in areas as diverse as embryology, neurodegeneration, cancer and diabetes.

Real-world translational outcomes that will result from this exciting area of study, that will support clinicians in making improved diagnosis and health decisions for patients, was also discussed.

The NeuRA lecture series attracts leading national and international researchers from all fields of neuroscience.


PLGA nanocomposites developed for PDT of cancer cells

staff photos for Centre of Excellence in Nanoscale Biophotonics (CNBP)24 November 2016:

In this latest paper, CNBP researchers (lead author Wei Deng pictured left) developed PLGA nanocomposites by incorporating a photosensitizer, verteporfin and gold nanoparticles into the polymeric matrix and utilised them for enhanced photodynamic therapy of cancer cells.

Journal: RSC Advances.

Title: PLGA nanocomposites loaded with verteporfin and gold nanoparticles for enhanced photodynamic therapy of cancer cells.

Authors: Wei Deng, Zofia Kautzka, Wenjie Chen and Ewa M Goldys.

Abstract: In this paper, PLGA nanocomposites were developed by incorporating a photosensitizer, verteporfin and gold nanoparticles into the polymeric matrix and utilised for enhanced photodynamic therapy of cancer cells. Both enhanced fluorescence and O2 generation from verteporfin were observed in this new formulation under both 425 nm LED and 405 nm laser illumination. A maximum enhancement factor of 2.5 for fluorescence and 1.84 for O2 generation was obtained when the molar ratio of gold : VP was 5:1 and excited at 425 nm, compared with PLGA doped with verteporfin alone. The experiment results could be explained by the local electric field enhancement of gold nanoparticles. Furthermore, improved therapeutic efficacy in human pancreatic cancer cells, PANC-1, was also demonstrated by using this new formulation following light exposure, indicating the utility of these nanocomposites for enhanced photodynamic therapy.

The paper is accessible online.

Welcome Fang Gao


The Macquarie University node of CNBP welcomes PhD student Fang Gao to the team.

Fang is undertaking her PhD on real-time sensing for cytokines and is being supervised by Center Deputy Director Prof. Ewa Goldys and Centre Research Fellow A/Prof. Guozhen Liu.

Fang’s research interests lie in the field of fluorescent sensing of biomolecules and biological imaging. Her background is primarily in Analytical Chemistry and Material Science.

Prior to joining Macquarie University, Fang completed her Master of Medicine in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the South-Central University for Nationalities, China. She worked under the guidance of A/Prof. Dan Zhao, where she synthesized a series of novel water-soluble quantum dots and conducted a chiral sensing for tyrosine enantiomers.

Her career goal in the near future is to help construct a device which can detect  cytokines in vivo in real time.