CNBP welcomes UNSW engineering to the fold

10 September 2019:

CNBP has officially welcomed UNSW, one of the world’s leaders at translational engineering research, as its newest node.

In addition to the official open by UNSW Engineering Dean Professor Mark Hoffman, CNPB Director Professor Mark Hutchinson took the opportunity to lay out the CNBP mission and its accomplishments at an industry showcase.

“Established to harness the power of light to measure, CNBP researchers are uncovering complex molecular processes in the human body that are helping fight disease and to improve fertility outcomes,” Professor Hutchinson said.

The Centre is dedicated to expending its reach from the laboratory to deliver real-world outcomes that improve the quality of all our lives.

“This ‘bench-to-boardroom’ approach has delivered more industry outcomes than even we dreamed of as possible. Having set at the outset a target of 20 translatable outcomes by 2020, we have already delivered over 30, while CNBP technology has led to the creation of 12 new industry jobs – and we haven’t finished yet,” he said.

Professor Mark Hutchinson – 20 outcomes from 20 ventures by 2020.

UNSW CNBP node director Professor Ewa Goldys also addressed the gathering, which then saw demonstrations by two CNBP researchers who showcased of some of the centre’s hottest research to industry representatives.

Professor Robert McLaughlin presented the miniaturised optical imaging microscope-in-a-needle probe, that has been licensed to medical device company Miniprobes, while RMIT’s Professor Brant Gibson demonstrated his team’s optical fibre bundle microendoscope.

These ultra-thin endoscopes are widely used for visualising hard-to-reach areas of the human body, but often lack in focusing due to size constraints, making it only possible for then to display 2D images.

Dr Antony Orth holding an ultra-thin microendoscope used in the study, which revealed the 3D imaging potential of the existing technology. Credit RMIT University.

But Professor Gibson’s approach to the problem has resulted in clear 3D imaging, without using the bulky and expensive opto-mechanical parts that would make the endoscope too large to be useful.

The approach to the problem uses “incoherent” light sources (those from conventional light sources) rather than “coherent” ones as found in lasers.

“Unlike coherent 3D multimode fibre imaging techniques, our incoherent approach is single shot and resilient to fibre bending, making it attractive for clinical and industry adoption,” Professor Gibson says.

Professor McLaughlin, meanwhile, demonstrated the imaging needle his team has developed. The tiny imaging probe, with a camera about the width of a human hair, fits inside a hypodermic needle but provides high-resolution images deep inside the body using a standard medical imaging technology, called optical coherence tomography.

A tiny imaging probe, with a camera about the width of a human hair, fits inside a hypodermic needle.

“We have integrated these probes into a brain biopsy needle that is able to warn the surgeon of nearby blood vessel at risk of damage,” Professor McLaughlin says.

These have already been demonstrated this technique in humans undergoing brain surgery.

“We are currently exploring a number of new applications for this technology in livestock markets for assessment of sheep and cattle.”

Professor Hutchinson closed the event emphasising the Centre’s commitment to having local and global impact.

“Scientific advances made by CNBP researchers are already changing lives,” he said.

“Not only are we enabling cross-disciplinary collaborations that are opening up new areas of research, we’re creating technologies that are impacting industry. Moving forward we are translating our research to help build Australia’s competitive advantage in livestock management through AgriTech as well as continuing to create entrepreneurial and manufacturing jobs of the future.”