All posts by AJ Epstein

Thwarting deadly heart blockages

5 June 2020:

Cardiovascular disease – which kills one Australian every 12 minutes — is caused by a hardening of the arteries due to abnormal deposits of fat and cholesterol (known as plaque) in the inner lining of the artery; a process known as atherosclerosis. When plaque deposits rupture, this can cause heart attacks and stroke. But what if the plaque could be prevented from rupturing using microscopic nanoparticles? Continue reading

To bioprobes, and beyond

28 May 2020:

When the Reserve Bank of Australia wanted to develop new security technologies for bank notes, Prof Jim Piper’s Advanced Imaging research group in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) at Macquarie University had an answer: timecoded nanoparticles. Continue reading

Reducing genetic screening risks in IVF pregnancies

13 May 2020:

When a couple cannot conceive naturally, they often turn to in-vitro fertilisation. And that’s when the spectre of ‘aneuploidy’ arises — the risk that a fertilised embryo will have an abnormal number of chromosomes instead of the usual 46, triggering a range of congenital disorders, most of which result in miscarriage, stillbirth or death of the baby soon after birth. Continue reading

Breaking the blur barrier

7 May 2020:

Medical researchers face a hurdle when studying cells under an optical microscope — the laws of physics. Obtaining an image of anything below a certain size is complicated; optical apertures and the wavelength of visible light play havoc with clarity. Known as the diffraction limit, it was first encountered by German physicist Ernst Abbe in 1873, and limits the resolution to 200 nanometres (nm) at best (or 200 billionths of a metre). Continue reading

In hot pursuit

29 April 2020:

A host of diseases – like meningitis, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s disease, even some cancers – are ultimately caused by problems at the cellular level. Hence, understanding what is happening inside cells is essential. Observing cells under a microscope helps, but what medical researchers would really like to do is see processes inside cells in minute detail. Continue reading

The unparalleled wonder of silk

22 April 2020

Dr Asma Khalid enjoys wearing silk dresses, and appreciates diamonds for their beauty —but she never expected both silk and diamonds to end up being the cornerstone of her work as a physicist. Yet they have opened up a whole new way to see deep in the body, sense infections on the skin and even deliver drugs in controlled amounts. Continue reading

How this researcher is collaborating against pain

15 April 2020:

Pain is one of the most complicated ailments to treat because the symptoms and severity are subjective and current medications are associated with a variety of problems including addiction and abuse. This makes it tough for doctors to accurately assess patient’s pain levels and prescribe the best pain management tool for the individual. The complex mechanisms underlying pain are the reason why researchers can take decades to develop new treatments. Continue reading

Pain, but not as we know it

9 April 2020:

There are three main types of pain: nociceptive pain, the type we’re most familiar with, from bee stings and ankle strains to inflammatory arthritis. There’s neuropathic pain, arising from damage to the peripheral nervous system or the brain itself due to disease or injury. Then there are functional pain disorders arising from complex organic dysfunction, sometimes called ‘primary pain’, but most often just known as ‘other’. Continue reading

Eye and the scalpel

2 April 2020:

Australia is the sunniest continent on Earth — which is why it also has the highest rates of skin cancer. But plentiful sunlight is also likely responsible for the lesser known ‘ocular surface cancer’, which occurs when abnormal cells on the eye grow and divide in an uncontrolled way. Continue reading