All posts by Tony Crawshaw

New X-ray-induced photodynamic therapy system

19 June 2018:

Researchers from CNBP have developed an X-ray-induced photodynamic therapy (PDT) system where nanoparticles incorporating a photosensitizer, verteporfin, were triggered by X-ray radiation to generate cytotoxic singlet oxygen. This system offers the possibility of enhancing the radiation therapy commonly prescribed for the treatment of cancer by simultaneous PDT.

Lead author on the paper was Dr Sandhya Clement (pictured).

Journal: International Journal of Nanomedicine.

Publication title: X-ray radiation-induced and targeted photodynamic therapy with folic acid-conjugated biodegradable nanoconstructs.

Authors: Sandhya Clement, Wenjie Chen, Wei Deng, Ewa M Goldys.

Abstract:
Introduction: The depth limitation of conventional photodynamic therapy (PDT) with visible electromagnetic radiation represents a challenge for the treatment of deep-seated tumors. Materials and methods: To overcome this issue, we developed an X-ray-induced PDT system where poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) incorporating a photosensitizer (PS), verteporfin (VP), were triggered by 6 MeV X-ray radiation to generate cytotoxic singlet oxygen. The X-ray radiation used in this study allows this system to breakthrough the PDT depth barrier due to excellent penetration of 6 MeV X-ray radiation through biological tissue. In addition, the conjugation of our NPs with folic acid moieties enables specific targeting of HCT116 cancer cells that overexpress the folate receptors. We carried out physiochemical characterization of PLGA NPs, such as size distribution, zeta potential, morphology and in vitro release of VP. Cellular uptake activity and cell-killing effect of these NPs were also evaluated. Results and discussion: Our results indicate that our nanoconstructs triggered by 6 MeV X-ray radiation yield enhanced PDT efficacy compared with the radiation alone. We attributed the X-ray-induced singlet oxygen generation from the PS, VP, to photoexcitation by Cherenkov radiation and/or reactive oxygen species generation facilitated by energetic secondary electrons produced in the tissue. Conclusion: The cytotoxic effect caused by VP offers the possibility of enhancing the radiation therapy commonly prescribed for the treatment of cancer by simultaneous PDT.

 

New CNBP partnership announced

13 June 2018:

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) is pleased to announce that the Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry (CIAC) is now a Partner Organisation of the CNBP with Dr Xiaohui Wang (pictured) leading the relationship from the CIAC side as a formal CNBP Partner Investigator.

Collaboration activity to take place between CNBP and CIAC will be focused in the areas of innate immune targeted biosensors and novel pharmacology. More specifically, CIAC expertise will feed into CNBP’s advanced research program exploring the impact of innate immune signalling in pain processing.

In a similar manner, CNBP will bring to CIAC and Dr Xiaohui Wang’s team a unique set of pre-clinical behavioural models and application areas that will advance the CIAC research program more broadly across the synthetic chemistry space.

Prof Mark Hutchinson, CNBP Director, noted that Dr Xiaohui Wang already possessed strong linkages with CNBP following Dr Wang’s visits to several CNBP nodes, and the decadal collaboration between the two researchers stemming from their time working together at the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder USA.

“I look forward to our future co-operative activity,” says Prof Mark Hutchinson. “CNBP and CIAC are an excellent strategic partnership fit in the novel innate immune targeted chemistry and pain-signalling space and I’m extremely excited to see where our joint research activity takes us.”

As a part of the partnership, CIAC will fund a full-time PhD student working on CNBP-CIAC related projects as well as provide additional research funding to support project activity and materials.

Below – Dr Xiaohui Wang.

Fluorescence microscopy gets the BAMM treatment!

7 June 2018:

A novel technique developed by researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) will help shine new light on biological questions by improving the quality and quantity of information that can be extracted in fluorescence microscopy.

The technique, ‘bleaching-assisted multichannel microscopy’ (BAMM) takes a current long-standing weakness of fluorescence microscopy – photobleaching – and turns it into a strength that improves imaging output by up to three times, with no additional hardware required.

Reported in the journal ‘Biomedical Optics Express’ (lead author Dr Antony Orth, CNBP Research Fellow at RMIT University), BAMM will help researchers gain biological insights into the intricate processes taking place within living cells. This includes the interplay between proteins and molecules which have the potential to impact a wide range of health areas from fertility, to pain, to heart disease and more.

Publication authors: Antony Orth, Richik N. Ghosh, Emma R. Wilson, Timothy Doughney, Hannah Brown, Philipp Reineck, Jeremy G. Thompson, and Brant C. Gibson.

Read more about this innovative technique from our media release or access the publication online.

Below – This figure shows the information-rich cellular images made possible by using the newly reported BAMM technique. The ‘Original’ image shows cells containing multiple fluorescent targets, all having similar colours. This results in a monochrome image. With BAMM, photobleaching rates are colour coded red, green and blue for visualisation, so that each fluorescently labelled structure can be identified even though the fluorophore’s native colour information was never used.

Detecting glycosylated hemoglobin

Jagjit Kaur7 June 2018:

A new review paper from CNBP researchers (lead author PhD student Jagjit Kaur) outlines current research activities on developing assays including biosensors for the detection of  glycosylated hemoglobin  (HbA1c). Measurement of HbA1c is used for assessing long term glycemic control in individuals with diabetes.

Journal: Biosensors and Bioelectronics.

Publication title: Different strategies for detection of HbA1c emphasizing on biosensors and point-of-care analyzers.

Authors: Jagjit Kaur, Cheng Jiang, Guozhen Liu.

Abstract: Measurement of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) is a gold standard procedure for assessing long term glycemic control in individuals with diabetes mellitus as it gives the stable and reliable value of blood glucose levels for a period of 90–120 days. HbA1c is formed by the non-enzymatic glycation of terminal valine of hemoglobin. The analysis of HbA1c tends to be complicated because there are more than 300 different assay methods for measuring HbA1c which leads to variations in reported values from same samples. Therefore, standardization of detection methods is recommended. The review outlines the current research activities on developing assays including biosensors for the detection of HbA1c. The pros and cons of different techniques for measuring HbA1c are outlined. The performance of current point-of-care HbA1c analyzers available on the market are also compared and discussed. The future perspectives for HbA1c detection and diabetes management are proposed.

CNBP science gets fresh

6 June 2018:

CNBP researcher Dr Annemarie Nadort has participated in ‘Fresh Science’, a national competition helping early-career researchers find, and then share, their stories of discovery. The program takes up-and-coming researchers with no media experience and turns them into spokespeople for science, giving them media training and a public event to present their science to the community. Ten researchers took part in the Fresh Science event for NSW.

Dr Nadort reports on her experience below.

“Fresh Science was an intense, colourful, and informative workshop ranging between fun and hard work. The first day consisted of a Q&A and mock interviews with journalists from television, radio and written news. The participants all had very interesting and new science to pitch and I definitely enhanced my network of Sydney researchers.”

“I also was impressed by the skills of the journalists. They said that society viewed them as the least trusted people, but their professionalism and ability to pick up the most important parts of our complicated science made me think the opposite!”

“The second morning consisted of a Q&A with commercialisation experts, the NSW Chief Scientist and collaboration experts, followed by a 1 minute pitch to stakeholders.”

“The workshop concluded with a final event at the Three Wise Monkeys Hotel: every Fresh Scientist presented their research for as long as their sparkler was still sparkling.”

“I was awarded the ‘highly commended’ distinction for my ‘bright sparks’ presentation which detailed the development of optical methods to improve the detection and therapy of high-grade brain cancer.”

Below – Dr Annemarie Nadort presents her science to an interested and engaged audience at the Three Wise Monkeys Hotel, Sydney.

CNBP Alternate Science Careers workshop

4 June 2018:

Although many students commence their doctoral studies with the aim of being a university academic, statistics show that the percentage who become professors is only around 0.5%.

The RMIT node of the CNBP hosted an alternative careers workshop with five experts who shared their pathways from doctoral studies into the wider world.

Elliot Taranto  completed a PhD in immunology and biology and now works in a technical and sales role at Olympus; Margie Beiharz completed a PhD in zoology and is now a freelance editor; Matthew Lay (pictured top left) undertook his PhD in semiconductor device fabrication and now works as a patent attorney; Shane Huntington’s PhD was in photonics and he is now the Deputy Director of the Melbourne Academic Centre for Health; and Victoria Coleman’s PhD was in semiconductor physics and she now leads the Nanometrology Section at the National Measurement Institute.

The panelists shared their pathways and the opportunities for research, interaction and fulfillment that their careers provided. Often stressed was how the ‘soft skills’ of writing, speaking, and collaboration played key roles in their success.

The session was chaired by CNBP Chief Investigator Andy Greentree.

Below – CNBP’s A/Prof Brant Gibson (L) and Prof Andy Greentree (R) flank guest speakers at the CNBP Alternate Science Careers workshop held at RMIT University.

New CNBP research node at Griffith University

29 May 2018:

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) has announced today that Griffith University has become a collaborating partner and will host a CNBP research node at its Institute for Glycomics on the Southport, Gold Coast campus.

As a research node and collaborating partner of the CNBP, Griffith University joins the University of Adelaide, Macquarie University and RMIT University as a core member of the Centre of Excellence.

The Griffith based CNBP research node, headed-up by Associate Professor Daniel Kolarich (pictured top left)  from the University’s ‘Institute for Glycomics’, will add to CNBP’s research capability in the development of next-generation light-based tools that can sense and image at a cellular and molecular level.

“Our team has specialised glycan knowledge and expertise that will aid the Centre in its objectives of improving understanding and knowledge of cell-communication and the nanoscale molecular interactions in the living body,” says A/Prof Kolarich.

Mark Hutchinson, CNBP Director and Professor at the University of Adelaide welcomed Griffith University as a new partner to the Centre.

“A/Prof Kolarich and his team are world-class scientists with exceptional knowledge and skills in glycomics. They have state-of-the-art facilities and will add significantly to CNBP’s investigative strength, helping us to achieve the highest levels of research excellence,” he says.

For further information, a media release is available online from the CNBP web site.

Below – Formalities are completed with the handover of the CNBP partnership plaque at the Institute for Glycomics.

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Commercialisation workshop outlines opportunities

17 May 2018:

Thursday 17th May saw CNBP, The Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) and Adelaide Enterprise come together at the University of Adelaide to jointly host a well-attended Commercialisation Workshop.

The event, with 45 participants comprising CNBP/IPAS researchers, students, Centre Associate Investigators and Chief Investigators looked to provide information, advice and discussion on commercialising technologies successfully, best-practice in starting and exiting start-ups, as well as tips for successful working relationships between academics and industry.

CNBP’s Business Development Manager Mel Trebilcock who helped coordinate the workshop saw the day as a great success.

“Firstly, Adelaide Enterprise provided an overview of a tech transfer office, templates relating to Invention Disclosures, Patents and the step by step process for a researcher ready to start the commercialisation process.”

“Then we had guest speakers – Melissa McBurnie (Brandon Capital) and Stewart Bartlett (from spinout company Ferronova), discuss their history of success and failure along the technology-translation journey, as well as talk about alternate  career pathways for researchers. They both provided some fantastic insights, including the adage that it’s okay to fail but that there is the need to stay positive and focused on your desired research outcomes.”

The afternoon session of the workshop saw attendees break-up into smaller groups and undertake a practical hands-on exercise whereby they had to work-up an invention based on household waste, to fill-out an invention disclosure, and to then provide a pitch to the whole room.

“This allowed for great involvement and interaction with an amazing amount of commercialisation experience being shared by attendees and guests,” says Mel Trebilcock.

New commercialisation workshops are also being planned by the CNBP for August.

“These will help prepare colleagues and collaborators to refine and learn the art of pitches with industry. It will also help them to lead ‘pitch teams’ presenting at a ‘Shark Tank’ style event to be held at this year’s CNBP Conference at Lorne,” she says.

A successful CNBP/IPAS commercialisation workshop at the University of Adelaide.

Outreach at Adelaide High School

17 May 2018:

Superstar of STEM and CNBP researcher Dr Sanam Mustafa has taken her outreach skills to Adelaide High School, speaking to approximately 300 Year 9 students (across two sessions) about her scientific activity, her career as a scientist and what it takes to succeed in a University environment.

“My talk was extremely well received by the students and teaching staff,” said Dr Mustafa. “They loved the personal stories and hearing about the light-focused science that we do at the CNBP.”

As part of her outreach activity at the school,  Dr Mustafa also ran an interactive workshop  for students, aimed at illustrating the importance of developing tests to quantify levels of pain for both human and animal populations.

“The students, in groups of about 10 were asked to discuss painful conditions that they had experienced and to try to find a common experience (maybe a paper cut or sprained ankle for instance). I then asked them to rate their pain from a scale of 1-10 to see how this varied within the group to demonstrate the subjectivity,” says Dr Mustafa.

“I then asked the groups to discuss if and why this subjectivity is a problem – such as inability of small children to describe pain, an inaccurate description of pain resulting in the administration of wrong medication and deliberate manipulation of pain scores for drug seeking behaviour.”

“Finally, I told the students how I hoped to develop a test to quantify pain to help overcome this subjectivity and showed them a slide demonstrating the ‘colour of pain’ from our ongoing hyperspectral work.”

“Feedback from the day was extremely positive,” concluded Dr Mustafa. “And it was fantastic to see so many engaged students actively thinking about science and how it has the potential to have such a beneficial and positive impact on society.”

Below – Adelaide High School visited by CNBP’s Dr Sanam Mustafa.