Category Archives: UA

Research award for Ms Megan Lim

5 June 2019:  Congratulations to PhD Student Ms Megan Lim who was awarded the Robinson’s Research Institute Prize for Best presentation in the field of reproduction, pregnancy or child health at The Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) conference.

Megan’s oral presentation was titled “Investigation of haemoglobin as an antioxidant to reduce reactive oxygen species during the in vitro maturation of moues cumulus-oocyte com.

Megan would like to thank my supervisor Dr Kylie Dunning and lab colleagues for their feedback during her practice talks, and also the Biological Challenges meeting attendees who gave her  helpful insights for her project.  “Thank you for your words of encouragement and support!”

Pop-up science

25 May 2019:

CNBP researchers Dr Georgina Sylvia and Dr Erin Smith (in conjunction with Children’s University Adelaide) have taken their love of science to the public, demonstrating fun-filled experiments to budding young scientists at a ‘pop-up’ event titled ‘The Magic and Wonder of Science’. The event took place as part of the biennial ‘Dream Big Children’s Festival’, held in South Australia, May-June, 2019.

Attendees at the ‘pop-up’ outreach event saw science working in practice as well as real-life applications of differing scientific elements.

“We demonstrated numerous experiments to our audience including creating ‘Elephant’s Toothpaste’. This is a foamy substance caused by the rapid decomposition of hydrogen peroxide,” says Georgina.

“Other experiments included a demonstration of atmospheric pressure with a jar of water, as well as the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze an everyday egg in a fry-pan. We wanted to inspire our young audience and to open their minds to the everyday science that exists all around them,” she says.

“Our show aimed to be a blend of entertainment and education with plenty of humor and laughs as well.”

Below – Erin and Georgina putting on their scientific show!


Hemoglobin and its role in the oocyte and early embryo

6 May 2019:

Hemoglobin expression in reproductive cells and the role of hemoglobin on oocyte and early embryo development is the focus of this latest CNBP review paper published in the journal ‘Biology of Reproduction’ (lead author Megan Lim based at the University of Adelaide).

Journal: Biology of Reproduction.

Publication title: Hemoglobin: potential roles in the oocyte and early embryo.

Authors: Megan Lim, Hannah M Brown, Karen L Kind, Jeremy G Thompson, Kylie R Dunning.

Abstract: Hemoglobin (Hb) is commonly known for its capacity to bind and transport oxygen and carbon dioxide in erythroid cells. However, it plays additional roles in cellular function and health due to its capacity to bind other gases including nitric oxide. Further, Hb acts as a potent antioxidant, quenching reactive oxygen species. Despite its potential roles in cellular function, the preponderance of Hb research remains focused on its role in oxygen regulation. There is increasing evidence that Hb expression is more ubiquitous than previously thought, with Hb and its variants found in a myriad of cell types ranging from macrophages to spermatozoa. The majority of non-erythroid cell types that express Hb are situated within hypoxic environments, suggesting Hb may play a role in hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-regulated gene expression by controlling the level of oxygen available or as an adaptation to low oxygen providing a mechanism to store oxygen. Oocyte maturation and preimplantation embryo development occur within the low oxygen environments of the antral follicle and oviduct/uterus, respectively. Interestingly, Hb was recently found in human cumulus and granulosa cells and murine cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) and preimplantation embryos. Here, we consolidate and analyze the research generated to-date on Hb expression in non-erythroid cells with a particular focus on reproductive cell types. We outline future directions of this research to elucidate the role of Hb during oocyte maturation and preimplantation embryo development and finally, we explore the potential clinical applications and benefits of Hb supplementation during the in vitro culture of gametes and embryos.

Collaborative research visit to Peking University

April 2019

CNBP PhD Student Ms Yuan Qi Yeoh enjoyed a two week collaborative visit with Prof Xuefeng Guo’s team at Peking University. Working with Peking University PhD student Xinjiani Chen on a  research project involving the molecular dynamics of the secondary structure of a cyclic photoswitchable peptide.

Yuan Qi had the opportunity to participate in the fabrication process of the single-molecule devices. Specifically, they carried out temperature-dependent experiments using their advanced facilities to probe the molecular dynamics of the secondary structure upon photoswitching.

Yuan Qi says that “It was a great opportunity to collaborate with colleagues at Peking University in such high impact research and enjoyed working in their sophisticated research labs”

New method to functionalise glass fibers

17 April 2019:

One of the biggest challenges associated with exposed core glass optical fiber-based sensing is the availability of techniques that can be used to generate reproducible, homogeneous and stable surface coating. CNBP scientists report a one step, solvent free method for surface functionalization of exposed core glass optical fiber that allows for the binding of fluorophore-of-choice for metal ion sensing.

Lead author of the paper, published in the journal ‘Sensors’, is CNBP researcher Dr Akash Bachhuka based at the University of Adelaide.

Journal: Sensors

Publication TitleSurface Functionalization of Exposed Core Glass Optical Fiber for Metal Ion Sensing;

Authors: Akash Bachhuka, Sabrina Heng, Krasimir Vasilev, Roman Kostecki, Andrew Abell and Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem


One of the biggest challenges associated with exposed core glass optical fiber-based sensing is the availability of techniques that can be used to generate reproducible, homogeneous and stable surface coating. We report a one step, solvent free method for surface functionalization of exposed core glass optical fiber that allows achieving binding of fluorophore of choice for metal ion sensing. The plasma polymerization-based method yielded a homogeneous, reproducible and stable coating, enabling high sensitivity aluminium ion sensing. The sensing platform reported in this manuscript is versatile and can be used to bind different sensing molecules opening new avenues for optical fiber-based sensing.

Ruthenium-based sensor detects nitric oxide

8 February 2019:

In a new publication, a responsive Ruthenium-based luminescence sensor was employed as a molecular probe for detecting nitric oxide (NO). The research suggests potential clinical utility for the measurement of soluble NO in the circulation system and possibly tissue. Lead authors of this paper are CNBP’s Dr Achini Vidanapathirana and Benjamin Pullen (both based at SAHMRI).

Journal: Scientific Reports.

Publication title:  A Novel Ruthenium-based Molecular Sensor to Detect Endothelial Nitric Oxide.

Authors: Achini K. Vidanapathirana, Benjamin J. Pullen, Run Zhang, MyNgan Duong, Jarrad M.Goyne, Xiaozhou Zhang, Claudine S. Bonder, Andrew D.Abell, Christina A. Bursill, Stephen J. Nicholls & Peter J. Psaltis.

Abstract: Nitric oxide (NO) is a key regulator of endothelial cell and vascular function. The direct measurement of NO is challenging due to its short half-life, and as such surrogate measurements are typically used to approximate its relative concentrations. Here we demonstrate that ruthenium-based [Ru(bpy)2(dabpy)]2+ is a potent sensor for NO in its irreversible, NO-bound active form, [Ru(bpy)2(T-bpy)]2+. Using spectrophotometry we established the sensor’s ability to detect and measure soluble NO in a concentration-dependent manner in cell-free media. Endothelial cells cultured with acetylcholine or hydrogen peroxide to induce endogenous NO production showed modest increases of 7.3 ± 7.1% and 36.3 ± 25.0% respectively in fluorescence signal from baseline state, while addition of exogenous NO increased their fluorescence by 5.2-fold. The changes in fluorescence signal were proportionate and comparable against conventional NO assays. Rabbit blood samples immediately exposed to [Ru(bpy)2(dabpy)]2+ displayed 8-fold higher mean fluorescence, relative to blood without sensor. Approximately 14% of the observed signal was NO/NO adduct-specific. Optimal readings were obtained when sensor was added to freshly collected blood, remaining stable during subsequent freeze-thaw cycles. Clinical studies are now required to test the utility of [Ru(bpy)2(dabpy)]2+ as a sensor to detect changes in NO from human blood samples in cardiovascular health and disease.

Gold nanomembranes with nanoholes

1 February 2019:

In a break-through in the field of nano membrane related research, CNBP alumni scientist Dr Peipei Jia and colleagues report on the development of large-area freestanding gold nanomembranes with nanohole arrays fabricated using a replication-releasing procedure. More information available below!

Journal: Materials Horizons.

Publication title:  Large-area Freestanding Gold Nanomembranes with Nanoholes.

Authors: Peipei Jia, Kamil Zuber, Qiuquan Guo, Brant C. Gibson, Jun Yang and Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem.

Abstract: Thin metal films with nanohole arrays have opened up new opportunities in applications ranging from plasmonics to optoelectronics. However, their dependence on substrates limits not only their performance but also other application possibilities. A key challenge to overcome this limitation is to make these nanostructured films substrate-free. Here we report large-area freestanding gold nanomembranes with nanohole arrays fabricated using a replication-releasing procedure. The structures maintain spatial uniformity and pristine quality after release across the entire membrane up to 75 cm2 in area and as thin as 50 nm. The freestanding nanomembranes show significantly enhanced optical transmission and effective field extension compared to the same nanomembranes on substrates. A plasmonic coupling resonance with a 2.7 nm linewidth achieves a record figure-of-merit of 240 for refractive index sensing. The gold nanomembranes can be geometrically converted to 3D microstructures by ion-irradiation-based kirigami technique. The transformed micro-objects can be precisely controlled via geometry design and strategic cutting. Furthermore, we find the presence of nanoholes can significantly change the in-plane modulus of the gold nanomembranes. Finally, the freestanding gold nanomembranes can be transferred to non-planar substrates, enabling their future integration with advanced optical and electronic systems for emerging applications.

Tailoring third-harmonic generation

25 January 2019:

CNBP Associate Investigator Dr Stephen C. Warren-Smith is lead author on a new publication that has demonstrated multi-wavelength third-harmonic generation from an exposed-core microstructured optical fibre.

Journal: Optics Letters.

Publication title: Tunable multi-wavelength third-harmonic generation using exposed-core microstructured optical fiber.

Authors: Stephen C. Warren-Smith, Kay Schaarschmidt, Mario Chemnitz, Erik P. Schartner, Henrik Schneidewind, Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem, and Markus A. Schmidt.

Abstract: We demonstrate that exposed-core microstructured optical fibers offer multiple degrees of freedom for tailoring third-harmonic generation through the core diameter, input polarization, and nanofilm deposition. Varying these parameters allows control of the phase-matching position between an infrared pump wavelength and the generated visible wavelengths. In this Letter, we show how increasing the core diameter over previous experiments (2.57 μm compared to 1.85 μm) allows the generation of multiple wavelengths, which can be further controlled by rotating the input pump polarization and the deposition of dielectric nanofilms. This can lead to highly tailorable light sources for applications such as spectroscopy or nonlinear microscopy.

CNBP presents at IETS Conference

23 January 2019:

Prof Brant Gibson and Prof Jeremy Thompson (both CNBP Chief Investigators) have attended (and presented) at the  International Embryo Technology Society (IETS) conference held in New Orleans, January 20– 23, 2019.

A lunch presentation session sponsored by CNBP, provided both representatives with the opportunity to talk about CNBP as well as to provide information on the organisation’s latest research and activity, taking place in the imaging and reproduction spaces.

Areas covered included: research on improving in vitro embryo production (IVF) systems; the development of a purpose-built, multi-function, micron-scale embryo ‘housing’ device created via unique 3D-printing technology; discussion on advanced hyperspectral imaging techniques; and the development by CNBP researchers of a clip-on device to enhance the magnification of a mobile phone’s existing optics, enabling bull semen analysis.

“The CNBP presentation went even better than I was expecting and we had over 40 people in attendance,” said Prof Gibson.

“Everyone enjoyed the lunch and there were plenty of questions and discussion from key people in the field, during and after our presentations. ”

“Hopefully this will spark some future collaborations both from a research and translation point of view,” Prof Gibson concluded.

The IETS Conference is the preeminent meeting in animal biotechnology, covering a broad area from embryo production and transfer techniques to cloning and transgenesis. The conference attracted more than 600 attendees from all over the world.

Below: A/Prof Jeremy Thompson discusses use of photonic probes in the reproduction space.

New researcher joins Adelaide team

22 January 2019:

CNBP welcomes its newest research recruit to Adelaide University, Dr Erin Smith.

Dr Smith will be working with CNBP Chief Investigator Prof. Andrew Abell and his group to explore the synthesis of photoswitchable inhibitors.

Previously, Dr Smith completed a PhD in synthetic chemistry at Curtin University in collaboration with Epichem. She was investigating new biosynthesis inhibitors as a new drug lead for the treatment of Chagas disease.

She has also worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Bayer in Germany. There she was employed as part of the Herbicide Innovation Partnership between Bayer and GRDC (Grains Research and Development Corporation) investigating the synthesis of compounds as potential herbicides for Australian agriculture.

A big welcome to the CNBP team Erin!