Category Archives: MQ

Centre outreach encourages a career in science

18 April 2018:

Two fantastic sessions of outreach in two days by CNBP Associate Investigator Dr Annemarie Nadort saw 100 Year 11 and Year 12 students learn about biophotonics, blood cells and the skills required to create medical devices that benefit society.

The sessions took place at Macquarie University and were part of a highly successful initiative aimed at encouraging students to undertake higher education learning and potentially develop a career in science.

During the outreach sessions, Dr Annemarie Nadort provided the students with a brief overview of light-based imaging and how it could be best applied to examine blood inside the body. Students were then presented with a real-life case-study on the development of a clinical microcirculation imager. A hands-on demonstration of the device then took place, followed by an interactive group discussion on how the device could be potentially improved with future development. Students were then left with the message that there were many opportunities open to them across the scientific and technology disciplines,  and that they should study in those areas that they were most enthusiastic about.

“I was extremely impressed as to how engaged these students were,” said Dr Annemarie Nadort. “They provided some great answers during the group discussion stage of the session and had really thought through issues and potential solutions. I could see the keenness for science and technology in the room and hopefully my sessions added to that keenness and passion for science. I’d love to see some of these students become the researchers of the future, developing their own fantastic new medical devices over the years and decades to come.”

Below: Dr Annemarie Nadort communicating the wonders of science to high school students and explaining what it takes to become a successful academic research scientist.

Successful BioNetwork 2018 symposium

13 April 2018:

The BioNetwork 2018 symposium titled ‘Killing it in Science’ was held Friday, 13th April at Macquarie University with significant CNBP involvement at the event.

The aim of the symposium was to foster interactions across the Macquarie University biosciences researcher community encompassing the Science & Engineering and Medicine & Health Sciences Faculties.

A unique career-building panel session was held in the morning of the symposium and a scientific session was held in the afternoon to create a platform for interdisciplinary research collaborations to commence novel or strengthen existing projects.

CNBP Associate Investigators Dr Alfonso Garcia-Bennett (Macquarie University) and Dr Varun Sreenivasan (University of New South Wales) were both invited speakers at the event speaking to their careers in academia, providing tips for advancement as well as outlining challenges that they had faced.

For the science session, CNBP students Mina Ghanimi Fard and Sameera Iqbal (pictured top left) jointly presented on the brain and the targeting and measuring of central nervous system sugar receptors. Other CNBP students also took part with Piotr Wargocki, Kashif Islam, Minakshi Das and Rachit Bansal presenting their CNBP releated science during the morning and lunch-time poster sessions.

CNBP AI’s Annemarie Nadort and Nima Sayyadi were both key members of the symposium organising committee.

“We had a fantastic engaged crowd of over 150 attendees and a wide range of presenters covering careers in academia, research-industry collaboration, innovative bio-research activity and much much more,” said Annemarie Nadort.

“There was so much positive feedback from participants on the day and we’ve kick-started a great many conversations and discussions which will hopefully build new research relationships and lead to even more innovative science taking place.”

Below – Organiser Annemarie Nadort observing the successful symposium panel discussion from the wings.

Understanding the role that sugars play

30 March 2018:

CNBP scientists Chris Ashwood (pictured) and Prof Nicki Packer at Macquarie University have shown that sugars with exactly the same chemical composition but slightly different structure break apart differently in their latest publication in the area of mass spectrometry. This work is their first step in automating sugar analysis, to understand the role sugars play in human disease.

Journal: Journal of The American Society for Mass Spectrometry.

Publication title: Discrimination of Isomers of Released N- and O-Glycans Using Diagnostic Product Ions in Negative Ion PGC-LC-ESI-MS/MS.

Authors: Christopher Ashwood, Chi-Hung Lin, Morten Thaysen-Andersen, Nicolle H. Packer.

Profiling cellular protein glycosylation is challenging due to the presence of highly similar glycan structures that play diverse roles in cellular physiology. As the anomericity and the exact linkage type of a single glycosidic bond can influence glycan function, there is a demand for improved and automated methods to confirm detailed structural features and to discriminate between structurally similar isomers, overcoming a significant bottleneck in the analysis of data generated by glycomics experiments. We used porous graphitized carbon-LC-ESI-MS/MS to separate and detect released N- and O-glycan isomers from mammalian model glycoproteins using negative mode resonance activation CID-MS/MS. By interrogating similar fragment spectra from closely related glycan isomers that differ only in arm position and sialyl linkage, product fragment ions for discrimination between these features were discovered. Using the Skyline software, at least two diagnostic fragment ions of high specificity were validated for automated discrimination of sialylation and arm position in N-glycan structures, and sialylation in O-glycan structures, complementing existing structural diagnostic ions. These diagnostic ions were shown to be useful for isomer discrimination using both linear and 3D ion trap mass spectrometers when analyzing complex glycan mixtures from cell lysates. Skyline was found to serve as a useful tool for automated assessment of glycan isomer discrimination. This platform-independent workflow can potentially be extended to automate the characterization and quantitation of other challenging glycan isomers.

CINSW Fellowship awarded

16 March 2018:

It has been formally announced that Dr Andrew Care, former CNBP Research Fellow and now Centre Associate Investigator, has been awarded a 2018 Early Career Fellowship from the Cancer Institute New South Wales (CINSW) to fund the research project, ‘Biological nanoparticles for the targeted delivery and light-triggered release of drugs’.

This project aims to develop novel protein nanocages for the targeted co-delivery and controlled release of therapeutics in the multimodal treatment of cancer.

In addition, PhD Candidate Ms Dennis Diaz, who is part of the team working on this exciting project, was recently awarded a Research Scholarship Award from the translational cancer research centre, Sydney Vital.

Dennis is working under the supervision of Dr Andrew Care and A/Prof. Anwar Sunna (also a CNBP Associate Investigator).

Further information on the CINSW and its recent grants announcement is available here.

Goldys on ‘Key Thinkers’ panel

8 February 2018:

The ability to develop a holistic and interdisciplinary vision was raised as a key attribute and skill by CNBP Deputy Director Prof Ewa Goldys at today’s ‘Key Thinkers – Key Concepts – Scholarly Gaze’ panel discussion, coordinated by the Faculty of Human Sciences, based at Macquarie University.

The event, consisting of prominent scientific speakers across differing disciplines, looked to better define the process of ‘seeing’ and ‘observation’ within the higher education research environment. Discussed were the use of technologies and techniques to help support advanced scientific theory development as well as best-practice methodology and laboratory experimentation.

Goldys, Professor at UNSW and Adjunct Professor at Macquarie University noted the advantages of having alternate vantage points and expertise from differing disciplines in her imaging, visualisation and cell colour research at the CNBP.

“It is the ability to bring together multiple disciplines and areas  – such as physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and materials science – that allows for the big science and health questions to be explored and then answered,” she said.

Below – Prof Ewa Goldys discussing the way in which she has successfully combined computer analysis with microscopy, to extract highly detailed cellular information that can help distinguish between healthy and diseased cells.

Sameera Iqbal awarded poster prize

2 February 2018:

Sameera Iqbal, CNBP PhD student at Macquarie University has been awarded a certificate and cash prize for her poster presentation at the Australasian Glycoscience Symposium at the Lorne Proteomics Conference, 2 Feb, 2018.

Her poster detailed the following work –

‘PolySialic Acid (PolySia) is an α2-8-linked sialic acid chain present on cell surfaces in embryonic brains. Changes in polysialylation pattern are reported to be associated with immune defense and inflammation in the CNS. Opioids such as Morphine-3-Glucuronide (M3G) (metabolite of morphine) activates neuroinflammation in a manner parallel to Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), compromising opioid-induced analgesia. In this study, morphine (Morphine-3-glucuronide) was hypothesized to affect the polySia expression in neurons and astrocyte cell lines. It was observed that PolySia expression was significantly increased in neurons following LPS and M3G stimulation.’

Well done Sameera!

New CNBP student at Macquarie

11 January 2018:

CNBP is happy to announce its newest student – Mina Ghanimi Fard. Mina is undertaking a Master of Research in Molecular Sciences at Macquarie University and is based in the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences.

Supervised by CNBP’s Dr Lindsay Parker, her project title is ‘Targeting Sugar Receptors with Bio-conjugated Nanodiamonds in a 3D Model of Human Brain Cancer.’

Mina has a Bachelor Degree  of General Biology from Azad University in Iran and a Master of Managerial Psychology from HELP University in Malaysia.

Areas of interest include biotechnology in general and also cancer related research; fluorescent nanodiamonds and microscope imaging; CRISPER and synthetic biology or anything related to gene modification.

Welcome to the CNBP team Mina!

New unmixing method to detect and measure fluorophores

17 November 2017:

A new CNBP paper “Statistically strong label-free quantitative identification of native fluorophores in a biological sample,” by Saabah B. Mahbub (first author pictured), Martin Plöschner, Martin E. Gosnell, Ayad G. Anwer and Ewa M. Goldys has just been published in Scientific Reports and is available online.

This work addresses a genuine shortage of methods for real-time continuous monitoring of biochemistry of cells and tissues, especially live cells. Saabah Mahbub and team developed an automated and unbiased unmixing methodology to non-invasively detect the presence and spatial distributions of endogenous fluorophores in retina cells. The method was validated on artificial images, where the addition of a varying known level of noise has allowed to quantify the accuracy of spectral unmixing.

With its capability for high throughput, automation and embedded compatibility with statistical analysis this work will contribute to improved quantification and objectivity in biomedical research.

Microfluidic droplet extraction

16 November 2017:

CNBP and Macquarie University PhD candidate Shilun Feng is first author on a new paper exploring a ‘membrane-on-a-chip’ device. The technology has the potential to form an integral part of a new type of microneedle that would be able to transport tiny and precise amounts of fluid/medication within the body.

Journal: Micromachines.

Publication titleMicrofluidic Droplet Extraction by Hydrophilic Membrane.

Authors: Shilun Feng, Micheal N. Nguyen, and David W. Inglis.

Abstract: Droplet-based microfluidics are capable of transporting very small amounts of fluid over long distances. This characteristic may be applied to conventional fluid delivery using needles if droplets can be reliably expelled from a microfluidic channel. In this paper, we demonstrate a system for the extraction of water droplets from an oil-phase in a polymer microfluidic device. A hydrophilic membrane with a strong preference for water over oil is integrated into a droplet microfluidic system and observed to allow the passage of the transported aqueous phase droplets while blocking the continuous phase. The oil breakthrough pressure of the membrane was observed to be 250 ± 20 kPa, a much greater pressure than anywhere within the microfluidic channel, thereby eliminating the possibility that oil will leak from the microchannel, a critical parameter if droplet transport is to be used in needle-based drug delivery.