Monthly Archives: September 2017

Children’s University Regional Lecture Series

17 September 2017:

Georgina Sylvia, CNBP researcher, was recently involved in two outreach events organised as part of the Children’s University Regional Lecture Series, which aims to stimulate interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM subjects) for school children in Years 6-9.

At the first event at Renmark, she presented exciting chemistry demonstrations to year 7 and 8 students from the local community at the McCormick Centre for the Environment. The students were engaged in groups of 25 and encouraged to participate in the experiments and to ask and discuss science related queries.

The best quote of the day heard by Georgina – “Chemistry is awesome!”

The second outreach event was held at ‘Riverland Field Days’, 15-16th September, 2017. This community event is held annually “showcasing horticultural, agricultural and general farming products and services along with many general exhibitors.”

Children’s University, as a part of the Regional Lecture Series, set up a stall where Georgina and other researchers demonstrated and engaged kids in activities such as Engineering (building catapults from popsicle sticks), Chemistry (Slime making) and Biology (an aroma-sensory panel activity).

Feedback from Georgina – “The best part of this event was encouraging parents and caregivers to get involved in the activities with their kids, and to learn things together. Another great experience for me was encouraging a little girl to get involved in the catapult-making engineering activity, and seeing her so excited to participate!”

Below – Georgina (second right) at the Field Days event.

Concordia students visit CNBP labs

14 September 2017:

Eighty Concordia College students with an interest in STEM undertook a series of educational tours at CNBP laboratories at the University of Adelaide—forty students visiting Wednesday 6th September and a further forty students visiting Wednesday 13th September, 2017.

The students were hosted by a number of CNBP researchers, undertaking laboratory tours in both the Braggs and Health and Medical Sciences buildings.

As well as getting an introduction to CNBP and biophotonic related science, the students were shown a range of CNBP activity and work-spaces. This included demonstrations of advanced needle probes and optical imaging systems, hands-on demonstrations of near-infrared light scanners, use of a 3D metal printer and tours of the Centre’s glass and optical fibre fabrication facilities, as well as tours of the  embryology laboratory where embryo culture and cryopreservation techniques were also able to be shown.

Emily Johnson, Middle Years Programme Coordinator from Concordia College noted, “All of the students (and teachers) really enjoyed the sessions. They came back quite buzzing and extremely interested in what they saw.”

Feedback from the CNBP researchers was also extremely positive with many noting the excellent questions posed by the students during the lab tour demonstrations and activity.

CNBP science at the Calyx

12 September 2017:

CNBP researchers Dr Denitza Denkova and Dr Martin Ploschner took their luminescence and fluorescence science expertise to the general public, at a special after-hours event known as ‘Science at the Calyx’ at the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney.

Presenting to an audience of approximately sixty people, the CNBP scientists focused on giving members of the public information about the origins of luminescence and examples of it being used – from everyday life to medical applications, and the amazing natural phenomenon of bioluminescence which can be found in plants, animals and fungi.

Following the hour long talk, there were demonstrations including the use of fluorescent bubbles, a ‘magical’ fluorescent screen, the showing of several fluorescent specimens and an examination of fluorescence in money and documents for security purposes. There was also as ample time for attendees to talk to the researchers about their work with fluorescent molecules and nanoparticles.

According to Dr Denkova, the event was highly rewarding.

“There was plenty of opportunity for personal interaction which was embraced by attendees. Many had an interest in the medical applications related to fluorescence, but there were also great questions on practical everyday activities – such as how to paint bikes with fluorescent paint to help improve road safety. Following the talk, people had the chance to walk around the beautiful garden with a UV torch in their hand to discover for themselves which plants are fluorescent. Both Martin and myself enjoyed communicating our science to a wider public!”

First reversible ‘turn-off’ sensor for Glutathione

6 September 2017:

The first reversible ‘turn-off’ sensor for Glutathione has been reported by CNBP researchers in a paper published in the science journal Biosensors.

The paper is accessible online (open access).

Dr Sabrina Heng notes:

γ-Glutamyl-cysteinyl-glycine (GSH) plays a critical role in maintaining redox homeostasis in biological systems and a decrease in its cellular levels is associated with disease. Many diseases including Parkinson’s, cancer, heart diseases and Alzheimer’s are indicated by a decrease in GSH levels. In this case, a ‘turn on’ sensor would result in reduced fluorescence relative to healthy cells. An important advance would come from the development of a sensor that is measurably turned off by GSH and back on by a lower level of GSH. This would then provide an opportunity to sense reduced GSH levels during the onset of important diseases.

With that in mind we have rationally designed, to the best of our knowledge, the first reversible, reaction-based ‘turn-off’ probe that is suitable for sensing decreasing levels of GSH, a situation known to occur at the onset of various diseases.  We have demonstrated that the sensor can be used to detect changes of intracellular GSH in live HEK 293 cells to provide a potentially regenerable sensor for monitoring lower levels of intracellular GSH as associated with the onset of important diseases.

Journal: Biosensors.

Publication title: A Rationally Designed Reversible ‘Turn-Off’ Sensor for Glutathione.

Authors: Sabrina Heng (pictured), Xiaozhou Zhang, Jinxin Pei and Andrew D. Abell.

Abstract: γ-Glutamyl-cysteinyl-glycine (GSH) plays a critical role in maintaining redox homeostasis in biological systems and a decrease in its cellular levels is associated with diseases. Existing fluorescence-based chemosensors for GSH acts as irreversible reaction-based probes that exhibit a maximum fluorescence (‘turn-on’) once the reaction is complete, regardless of the actual concentration of GSH. A reversible, reaction-based ‘turn-off’ probe (1) is reported here to sense the decreasing levels of GSH, a situation known to occur at the onset of various diseases. The more fluorescent merocyanine (MC) isomer of 1 exists in aqueous solution and this reacts with GSH to induce formation of the ring-closed spiropyran (SP) isomer, with a measurable decrease in absorbance and fluorescence (‘turn-off’). Sensor 1 has good aqueous solubility and shows an excellent selectivity for GSH over other biologically relevant metal ions and aminothiol analytes. The sensor permeates HEK 293 cells and an increase in fluorescence is observed on adding buthionine sulfoximine, an inhibitor of GSH synthesis.

Charge transfer in helical peptides

1 September 2017:

Understanding the electronic properties inherent to peptides is crucial for controlling charge transfer, and precursory to the design and fabrication of bio-inspired next generation electronic components.

However, to achieve this objective one must first be able to predict and control the associated charge transfer mechanisms.

Here CNBP researchers demonstrate for the first time a controllable mechanistic transition in peptides resulting directly from the introduction of a side-bridge.

Journal: RSC Advances.

Publication title: A controllable mechanistic transition of charge transfer in helical peptides: from hopping to superexchange.

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

For more information, access the paper here.