From capturing images of cellular processes to sensing electromagnetic fields in extreme environments, researchers at the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics are harnessing the unique properties of diamonds for a wide variety of applications. Continue reading →
Few materials shine light like diamond, and researchers are beginning to harness this property to explore the brain in minute detail.
At the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics, Marco Capelli uses these tiny crystals to measure magnetic fields surrounding neurons with the goal of having them side-by-side, leading to fresh insights on cell communication. Continue reading →
Last week saw CNBP researchers come together from around the country for the annual conference in Adelaide.
The week culminated in gala where researchers were recognised for their achievements through awards ranging from academic excellence to commercial impact, outreach and collaboration.
Read about the awardees below, and congratulations to all our members who were recognised for their achievements in 2019!
2019 Academic Excellence Award Transdisciplinary Research Publication
Awarded to the best 2019 publication connecting CNBP researchers from multiple disciplines. This year’s award recognises a collaboration between researchers working with nanoparticles, microscopy, computational imaging and molecular & cellular biology.
Denkova, D., M. Ploschner, M. Das, L. M. Parker, X. Zheng, Y. Lu, A. Orth, N. H. Packer and J. A. Piper (2019). “3D sub-diffraction imaging in a conventional confocal configuration by exploiting super-linear emitters.” Nat Commun 10(1): 3695.
2019 Academic Excellence Award – International Impact
Awarded to the best 2019 publication connecting CNBPs Australian researchers with International Partners. This year’s award recognises collaboration between researchers at RMIT University and QST, Japan.
Capelli, M., A. H. Heffernan, T. Ohshima, H. Abe, J. Jeske, A. Hope, A. D. Greentree, P. Reineck and B. C. Gibson (2019). “Increased nitrogen-vacancy centre creation yield in diamond through electron beam irradiation at high temperature.” Carbon 143: 714-719.
2019 Academic Excellence Award – Best Student Publication
Awarded to the best 2019 publication first authored by a CNBP student as determined by journal impact factor.
Wei, Y., H. Ebendorff‐Heidepriem and J. Zhao (2019). “Recent Advances in Hybrid Optical Materials: Integrating Nanoparticles within a Glass Matrix.” Advanced Optical Materials. DOI: 10.1002/adom.201900702
2019 Academic Excellence Award – Best Researcher (non-student) Publication
Awarded to the best 2019 publication as determined by journal impact factor.
Jia, P., K. Zuber, Q. Guo, B. C. Gibson, J. Yang and H. Ebendorff-Heidepriem (2019). “Large-area freestanding gold nanomembranes with nanoholes.” Materials Horizons 6(5): 1005-1012. DIO:10.1039/c8mh01302k
Awarded to the 2019 publication recognised by the wider non-academic community, as determined by Altmetric score.
Habibalahi, A., C. Bala, A. Allende, A. G. Anwer and E. M. Goldys (2019). “Novel automated non invasive detection of ocular surface squamous neoplasia using multispectral autofluorescence imaging.” Ocular Surface. DOI:10.1016/j.jtos.2019.03.003
Awarded to Patrick Capon (@PatCapon) for his diverse, informative and entertaining engagement with the @CNBPscience twitter handle.
2019 Quality Communication Award – Engagement in Centre Outreach Activity
Awarded to Dr Lindsay Parker for community engagement activities including: Science in the Swamp, Exploring Brain Research at Castle Hill Library; and multiple engagements with school groups in Sydney and her home town in the USA.
2019 Nurturing Environment Award – Mentor
Awarded to Professor Andrew Greentree for commitment to mentorship and contribution to CNBP professional development activities including the PhD Publication’s Masterclass, Research integrity training and supporting fellowship applications.
2019 Nurturing Environment Award – 5% Commitment to CNBP
This award recognises individuals that go above and beyond CNBPs requirement for researchers to commit 5% of their time to non-research activities. Awarded to Dr Georgina Sylva for ongoing commitment to science outreach in regional and remote communities.
2019 Commercial Impact Award – Individual Engagement with Industry/End-users
Awarded to a CNBP researcher for successful collaboration with industry and end-users. Prof Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem for her disruptive glass projects with multiple industry partners and her collaborations with the glass-art community.
2019 Commercial Impact Award – CNBP Project
Awarded for the most successful CNBP research project – industry collaboration. Dr Thomas Avery and Associate Professor Peter Grace for next gen non-opioid non addictive pain therapies.
CNBP pitch fest is the brain child of the ECR led Entrepreneurs Network. After participation in a CNBP-led pitching workshop, Individuals pitch their idea/project to the wider CNBP community with pitches judged by an expert panel.
Equal first prize:
Mr Suliman Yagoub: Towards Automation of in vitro Fertilization (IVF) Treatment.
Current IVF success requires skilled embryologists to perform regular, routine procedures. By automating and standardizing IVF procedures we will reduce human error for IVF treatments world-wide
Dr Andrew Care and A/Prof Lyndsay Collins-Praino: Intercepting Parkinson’s Disease
This novel technology employs bioengineered nanoparticles to halt the progression of Parkinson’s Disease inside the human brain.
2019 Annual Conference – Best Poster Award
Awarded to the best CNBP conference poster by popular vote. Aimee Horsfall – Poster: Enhancing protein biosensor sensitivity requires detailed structural insight.
2019 Director’s Award
Each year the Prof Mark Hutchinson identifies the individual(s) who’s contribution to the centre and/or support to the Director has stood out. Joint award to the CNBP Deputy Directors: Prof Brant Gibson & Prof Ewa Goldys for all-round awesome!
Researchers have found a way to identify multiple cell signalling proteins using a single cell rather than the billions of cells used previously.
The new measurement technology, developed by researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale Biophotonics, brings precision medicine a step closer.
“Cells secrete various messenger molecules, such as cytokines. They may indicate the presence of a disease or act as a driver of key therapeutic effects,” says Dr Guozhen Liu, lead author of paper detailing the technology.
The method, termed OnCELISA, uses antibodies attached on specially engineered cell surfaces to capture cytokine molecules before they have a chance to disperse away from the cell.
The secreted messenger proteins such as cytokines are reported, at the single cell level, by using fluorescent magnetic nanoparticles.
Cytokines secreted from cells play a critical role in controlling many physiological functions, including immunity, inflammation, response to cancer, and tissue repair.
The OnCELISA system can be used for ultrasensitive monitoring of cytokine release by individual cells, and it can also help discover cell populations with therapeutic value.
“The ability to identify and select cell populations based on their cytokine release is particularly valuable in commercial cell technologies and it can help develop unique products, such as future non-opioid pain relief” says Dr Liu.
“Importantly, our design uses commercially available reagents only, so it can be easily reproduced by others,” she adds.
While the published work focuses on specific proinflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-1β, the method is potentially suitable for a broad range of other secreted proteins and cell types.
The new technique represents an advance on traditional methods such as the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) that detect average levels of secreted molecules from cell ensembles.
The OnCELISA takes the ELISA approach to its absolute extreme, by detecting cytokines on the surface of individual, single live cells.
Publication Title: A Nanoparticle-Based Affinity Sensor that Identifies and Selects Highly Cytokine-Secreting Cells
Authors: Guozhen Liu; Christina Bursill; Siân P.Cartland; Ayad G.Anwer; Lindsay M.Parker; Kaixin Zhang; Shilun Feng; Meng He; David W.Inglis; Mary M.Kavurma; Mark R.Hutchinson; Ewa M.Goldys
Summary: We developed a universal method termed OnCELISA to detect cytokine secretion from individual cells by applying a capture technology on the cell membrane. OnCELISA uses fluorescent magnetic nanoparticles as assay reporters that enable detection on a single-cell level in microscopy and flow cytometry and fluorimetry in cell ensembles. This system is flexible and can be modified to detect different cytokines from a broad range of cytokine-secreting cells. Using OnCELISA we have been able to select and sort highly cytokine-secreting cells and identify cytokine-secreting expression profiles of different cell populations in vitro and ex vivo. We show that this system can be used for ultrasensitive monitoring of cytokines in the complex biological environment of atherosclerosis that contains multiple cell types. The ability to identify and select cell populations based on their cytokine expression characteristics is valuable in a host of applications that require the monitoring of disease progression.
The CNBP and its researchers are taking part in a wide range of activities for National Science Week.
This Thursday 8 August researcher Dr Wei Deng from UNSW Sydney will explain how nanotechnogy is changing how we treat cancer, as part of Inspiring Australia’s Talking Science series.
It will be held at the Max Webber Library, in Blacktown, Sydney. More details here.
On Sunday, 11 August, Adelaide University’s Lyndsey Collins-Praino will host Kids Navigate Neuroscience, an event at which children aged 4-10 can explore how the brain works in a fun and hands-on way by participating in a series of interactive neuroscience exhibits.
You can find out more about the event here. Bookings are essential and can be made through Eventbrite.
On Tuesday 13 August explore medical brain research by joining Dr Lindsay Parker, a researcher at Macquarie University, as she discusses how she is trying to create better medicines for Alzheimer’s, chronic pain and brain cancer, by only targeting the unhealthy cells in the brain. This event is part of Inspiring Australia’s Talking Science series as part of National Science Week. Bookings available now. Contact details:
Castle Hill Library
The Hills Shire Library Service
Phone: 02 9761 4510 https://www.scienceweek.net.au/exploring-medical-brain-research/
There is a fun evening next Friday, 16 August, at the Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide, where you can explore the neuroscience of sex, drugs and salsa dancing.
A series of interactive exhibits will address questions such as, what role does the brain play in sexual attraction? Can you salsa dance your way to a healthy brain? How does the brain perceive different flavours when drinking wine, and how can pairing wine with different foods alter this perception?
Also next Friday, 16 August, the whole family is invited to see some amazing short videos on a massive screen in a free National Science Week Event hosted by STEMSEL Foundation Braggs Lecture Theatre, University of Adelaide AI Light Science Spectacular.
You will find out how the eye works, how NASA finds planets in other solar systems and how detected the edge of the Universe.
You will also explore light, from nanoscale biophotonics with CNBP research fellow Dr Roman Kostecki to exploring the Universe with Dr Jerry Madakbas, a photonics physicist who builds night vision sensors for NASA.
What role does the brain play in sexual attraction? Can you salsa dance your way to a healthy brain? How does the brain perceive different flavours when drinking wine, and how can pairing wine with different foods alter this perception?
These days, you can’t seem to walk through the aisle of a grocery store without being bombarded by newspaper and magazine headlines touting the latest and greatest breakthrough in neuroscience research. But how can you tell fact from fiction?
Join us for this Big Science Adelaide event, held at the Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences (AHMS) building at the University of Adelaide, where we’ll explore the answers to these questions and many more!
CNBP researcher Dr Nafisa Zohora has been awarded her PhD in applied physics by Melbourne’s RMIT University. Her research project looked at materials that could be used as an alternative to available fluorophores – the fluorescent chemical compounds used in a variety of biological research projects.
The discoveries of the project solves a significant problem that was stopping scientists obtaining good images of biological samples.
Fluorophores are used to stain specific cells, for example, which are then observed and analysed by a fluorescence microscope. They are used as biomarkers to identify a range of bioactive molecules such as antibodies or proteins.
But for the fluorophores to re-emit light, they must first absorb it in a process known as “excitation” – usually brought about with a laser.
The problem is, though, that some compounds just do not absorb enough with low power excitation to produce enough fluorescence to be seen under the microscope. But higher power, from greater exposure to a laser for example, can also generate so much heat that the sample is destroyed.
The fluorophores are also inclined to lose their ability to emit within a few seconds with repeated exposure to the laser, not giving enough time to take a good image.
Nafisa set out to find a solution to both these issues. She began by studying the commercially available nanoparticle fluorophores such as cuprous oxide (Cu2O), titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zinc oxide (ZnO) but couldn’t find the properties she was looking for.
She then decided to synthesise her own nanoparticles.
After two years of hard work, she had successfully developed a methodology to synthesis Cu2O nanocubes that become very bright with a very low power excitation.
What’s more they are photostable for several hours under repeated exposure to a laser – so both problems solved!
In a follow-up collaboration with the University of Adelaide, Nafisa tested the nanoparticles for their toxicity to cells, giving them a clean bill.
Her work uncovering the exceptional properties of the synthesised Cu2O nanoparticles opens up new possible applications in detecting antigens and other long-term bio-imaging applications.
Nafisa’s supervisors were Professor Brant Gibson (Physics, RMIT University), Dr Ahmad Kandjani (Chemistry, RMIT University) and Professor Mark Hutchinson (The University of Adelaide). She completed her PhD on 1 July 2019, and her graduation ceremony will be in December.
CNBP research fellow Dr Lindsay Parker, of Macquarie University, has won an award for the best research paper from an investigator under 40, at an international conference in Rome.
Lindsay’s work is aimed at better understanding molecules ex-pressed in the brain during pain, brain diseases and brain cancer. This could lead to improved precision drugs that specifically target only the unhealthy cells in the brain.
She won a “Young Scientist Award” at the 41st PIERS (Photonics & Electromagnetics Research Symposium) held at the University of Rome in June.
Her paper, “Utilising Glycobiology for Fluorescent Nanodiamond Uptake and Imaging in the Central Nervous System” was in the category “Remote Sensing, Inverse Problems, Imaging, Radar & Sensing”.
The paper, in collaboration with RMIT University and the University of Colorado Boulder, investigated the ability of lectin-coated fluorescent nanodiamonds to recognise specific central nervous system cell types.
The prize included cash, and an invitation to the Symposium Banquet held at Palazzo Brancaccio. Lindsay also received travel awards from MQ University Primary Carer Support for Conference Attendance ($2000) and MQ Research Centre for Diamond Science and Technology ($1000) which meant her partner and baby William were also able to be in Rome with her as she worked.
While she was in Europe, Lindsay took the opportunity to give invited talks at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague and at the University of Groningen in Netherlands while visiting two other labs working in similar research areas to her synthetic nanochemistry expert Dr Petr Cigler and nanobiotechnology expert A/Prof Romana Schirhagl.
3D printing of titanium has made patient-specific orthopaedic implants possible, promising to dramatically improve many people’s quality of life.
But, despite the huge potential, there are still significant problems to overcome, particularly in how the implants integrate with human tissue and bone.
Associate Professor Kate Fox from RMIT University in Melbourne, an Associate Investigator with the CNBP, led the team which, in a previous study, showed that a thin film coating of diamond could provide a better surface for cells to interact.
A new paper, Engineering the Interface: Nanodiamond Coating on 3D-Printed Titanium Promotes Mammalian Cell Growth and Inhibits Staphylococcus aureus Colonization expands on that work.
It describes how applying a nanodiamond (ND) coating on to the 3D printed titanium increased the cell density of both skin bone cells after three days of growth compared to the uncoated 3D printed titanium.
The study also showed an 88% reduction of Staphylococcus aureus – or Golden Staph – adherence to ND-coated substrates compared to those without.
This study, whose lead author is Aaquil Rifai, from RMIT, paves a way to create antifouling structures for biomedical implants.
Publication Title: Engineering the Interface: Nanodiamond Coating on 3D-Printed Titanium Promotes Mammalian Cell Growth and Inhibits Staphylococcus aureus Colonization
Authors: Aaqil Rifai*, Nhiem Tran, Philipp Reineck, Aaron Elbourne, Edwin Mayes, Avik Sarker, Chaitali Dekiwadia, Elena P. Ivanova, Russell J. Crawford, Takeshi Ohshima, Brant C. Gibsonm, Andrew D. Greentree, Elena Pirogova, and Kate Fox*
Abstract: Additively manufactured selective laser melted titanium (SLM-Ti) opens the possibility of tailored medical implants for patients. Despite orthopedic implant advancements, significant problems remain with regard to suboptimal osseointegration at the interface between the implant and the surrounding tissue. Here, we show that applying a nanodiamond (ND) coating onto SLM-Ti scaffolds provides an improved surface for mammalian cell growth while inhibiting colonization of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Owing to the simplicity of our methodology, the approach is suitable for coating SLM-Ti geometries. The ND coating achieved 32 and 29% increases in cell density of human dermal fibroblasts and osteoblasts, respectively, after 3 days of incubation compared with the uncoated SLM-Ti substratum. This increase in cell density complements an 88% reduction in S. aureus detected on the ND-coated SLM-Ti substrata. This study paves a way to create facile antifouling SLM-Ti structures for biomedical implants.
Key Words: nanodiamond, antifouling, 3D printing, biomaterial, implants
Band-aids and bandages are remarkable. A simple invention allows us to cover, treat and protect injuries until they have time to heal. But they come with a big drawback – the only way we can check how well the wound is healing, is by removing them.
This means that sometimes infections are detected only after they take hold, which can lead to increased recovery times and the need for additional medications and care.
Now imagine a technology that enables us to track the healing process without needing to remove the bandage.
This technology is being worked on by a group of CNBP researchers based at RMIT University who presented their research at a Physics in the Pub event held in Hawthorn last week.
The team explained that by using nanodiamonds in a ‘smart dressing’, researchers are able to detect temperature changes within or surrounding a wound – a common indication of infection – without removing the bandage.
This would give doctors and nurses the ability to track the healing progress without having to remove and re-apply the dressing.
Dr Amanda Abraham, who presented alongside Qiang Sun, Daniel Stavrevski and Donbi Bai, explained that the topic was chosen because “almost everyone has experienced the pain of band-aid removal. Using nanodiamonds could save the patient further discomfort, and speed up the healing process by providing treatment only when needed.”
Physics in the Pub is an informal, light-hearted night where physicists, astronomers, theoreticians, engineers and educators share their love of science over a refreshing beverage. The event is supported by the AIP, and ARC Centres of Excellence CNBP, OzGrav, FLEET and Exciton Science.