Category Archives: UA

Fellowship supports ongoing study into chronic pain

26 April 2018:

The Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP), an Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence is pleased to announce that Logan Jenkins, a researcher at Vanderbilt University, USA, is the successful recipient of the CNBP-American Australian Association (AAA) Fellowship for 2018.

The Fellowship, coordinated by the AAA and funded by the CNBP, provides US$30,000 to support an American graduate student, PhD or early career Postdoctoral Fellow who wishes to conduct collaborative research at a CNBP research node in Australia.

In this instance, it will allow Logan Jenkins, who specialises in Biophotonics, to take forward research that will explore how light can be used to control neuronal activity, as well as to examine how such techniques potentially impact the body’s neuroimmune system.

This area of study will directly align with CNBP’s activity in the chronic pain space says Mark Hutchinson, CNBP Director and Professor at the University of Adelaide.

“Within the CNBP we examine the working neuroimmune interface at a cellular level and in particular, how the brain’s immune-like cells are linked to chronic pain, a condition that affects millions of people world-wide,” Professor Hutchinson says.

“We will work closely with Logan to see how his light-based neuronal control mechanisms, and neuroimmune related study, links to our own advanced research in this area.”

Jenkins is looking forward to meeting the CNBP research team in Australia.

“This Fellowship will give me the opportunity to work closely with a prestigious Centre of Excellence and I look forward to conducting some excellent and impactful research. I also hope to build scientific friendships that will lead to ongoing collaborations and discovery,” he says.

Prof Mark Hutchinson welcomed the Fellowship appointment.

“The CNBP seeks to conduct international cutting-edge research in Biophotonics. In order to do this we need to have the best people in the world collaborating with us. This includes rising stars like Logan who comes to us from the Vanderbilt Biophotonics Center, an outstanding organisation which leads the world in ‘neuronal control by light’ investigation.”

“Logan will be based primarily at the University of Adelaide during this Fellowship and will also spend time at CNBP’s other research nodes as he explores his research program in the Centre,” says Professor Hutchinson.

Further information on the United States to Australia Scholarships can be found online at the American Australian Association website. The AAA seeks to build closer USA to Australia ties.

The research is also being supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and enabled through access to the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF).

Below – Logan Jenkins.

Sensing magnesium

17 April 2018:

A new publication from CNBP researchers (lead author Georgina Sylvia pictured), presents the rational design and photophysical characterisation of spiropyran-based chemosensors for magnesium.

Journal: Chemosensors.

Publication title: A Rationally Designed, Spiropyran-Based Chemosensor for Magnesium.

Authors: Georgina M. Sylvia, Adrian M. Mak, Sabrina Heng, Akash Bachhuka, Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem, and Andrew D. Abell.

Abstract: Magnesium ions (Mg2+) play an important role in mammalian cell function; however, relatively little is known about the mechanisms of Mg2+ regulation in disease states. An advance in this field would come from the development of selective, reversible fluorescent chemosensors, capable of repeated measurements. To this end, the rational design and fluorescence-based photophysical characterisation of two spiropyran-based chemosensors for Mg2+ are presented. The most promising analogue, chemosensor 1, exhibits 2-fold fluorescence enhancement factor and 3-fold higher binding affinity for Mg2+ (Kd 6.0 µM) over Ca2+ (Kd 18.7 µM). Incorporation of spiropyran-based sensors into optical fibre sensing platforms has been shown to yield significant signal-to-background changes with minimal sample volumes, a real advance in biological sensing that enables measurement on subcellular-scale samples. In order to demonstrate chemosensor compatibility within the light intense microenvironment of an optical fibre, photoswitching and photostability of 1 within a suspended core optical fibre (SCF) was subsequently explored, revealing reversible Mg2+ binding with improved photostability compared to the non-photoswitchable Rhodamine B fluorophore. The spiropyran-based chemosensors reported here highlight untapped opportunities for a new class of photoswitchable Mg2+ probe and present a first step in the development of a light-controlled, reversible dip-sensor for Mg2+.

Fibre-needle probe for imaging and sensing in deep tissue

6 April 2018:

A world-first tiny fibre-optic probe that can simultaneously measure temperature and sense deep inside the body has been reported by CNBP/IPAS researchers. According to lead author of the research, Dr Jiawen Li at the University of Adelaide, the probe may help researchers find better treatments to prevent drug-induced overheating of the brain, and potentially refine thermal treatment for cancers. Read the media release or click on the publication title below!

Journal: Optics Letters.

Publication title: Miniaturized single-fiber-based needle probe for combined imaging and sensing in deep tissue.

Authors: Jiawen Li, Erik Schartner, Stefan Musolino, Bryden C. Quirk, Rodney W. Kirk, Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem, and Robert A. McLaughlin.

Abstract: The ability to visualize structure while simultaneously measuring chemical or physical properties of a biological tissue has the potential to improve our understanding of complex biological processes. We report the first miniaturized single-fiber-based imaging+sensing probe capable of simultaneous optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging and temperature sensing. An OCT lens is fabricated at the distal end of a double-clad fiber, including a thin layer of rare-earth-doped tellurite glass to enable temperature measurements. The high refractive index of the tellurite glass enables a common-path interferometer configuration for OCT, allowing easy exchange of probes for biomedical applications. The simultaneous imaging+sensing capability is demonstrated on rat brains.

Below – Dr Jiawen Li.

Miniprobes innovation featured

20 March 2018:

The CNBP spin-out company Miniprobes and its development of an inexpensive handheld scanner that can undertake microscopic analysis of surfaces has featured as a ‘success story’ as a part of the AUSInnovates campaign.

The handheld imaging device is able to accurately measure the thickness of surface coatings applied to products – often less than a tenth of a millimetre in thickness.

“We’re exploring two major international markets,” explained Dr McLaughlin, Miniprobes Managing Director.

“Our scanheads can examine metal parts in microscopic detail, and that’s important for industrial manufacturers working to fine tolerances, such as in the car and aerospace industries.”

“Another important application is in controlling the absorption rate of drugs, which is achieved by coating the drug with a thin chemical layer. Our device enables precise measurement of these layers by pharmaceutical manufacturers.”

The AUSinnovates campaign celebrates successful Australian commercialisation and is championed by gemaker, research-industry engagement and commercialisation specialists.

Detecting hydrogen peroxide

19 March 2018:

A nanosensor that can detect hydrogen peroxide has been developed by CNBP/IPAS researchers by combining fluorescent nanodiamonds with organic fluorescent probes.

Importantly, cellular imbalance of hydrogen peroxide has been connected to aging and various severe diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disorders, and Alzheimer’s.

The work is featured in the latest edition of MRS Bulletin with Patrick Capon from the University of Adelaide, co-author of the research study interviewed for the article (available here).

New CNBP visiting researcher

Ashley Grant12 March 2018:

CNBP welcomes visiting researcher Ashley Grant to the University of Adelaide.

Ashley graduated magna cum laude with the highest university honors from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, USA with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Psychology.

She will be based at the University of Adelaide for 12 months in the School of Medicine. While there she will be supervised by CNBP Director Prof Mark Hutchinson and will work in pain and alcohol research.

“I’m looking forward to being exposed to studies that focus on the molecular level of pain during my stay,” says Ashley.

Ashley is an avid yogi and blogger who loves the outdoors and exploration, meeting new people and trying new things. She has a strong past history in nonprofit work including being the Development Director for a nonprofit group called Camp Kesem which provides free summer camps for children who have been affected by a parent’s cancer.

“I think there is a lot of pain in this world, physically and emotionally, and my goal in life is to help alleviate some of the pain that can be managed,” says Ashley.

Awards congratulations

28 February, 2018:

Congratulations to the following CNBP students and researchers who were successful at the annual ‘Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) Awards’.

  • Jiawen Li (Joint IPAS Best ECR Paper)
  • Team: Patrick Capon, Malcolm Purdey, Benjamin Pullen and Andrew Abell (IPAS Best Transdisciplinary Paper)
  • Kathryn Palasis (Tanya Monro Best Student Oral Presentation)

 

Diabetes and early pregnancy

1 February 2018:

CNBP and Robinson Research Institute researcher Dr Hannah Brown, University of Adelaide is lead author on a newly published paper that looks to understand why pregnancy failure and pregnancy loss occurs in women with diabetes. The paper was published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.

Publication titlePericonception onset diabetes is associated with embryopathy and fetal growth retardation, reproductive tract hyperglycosylation and impaired immune adaptation to pregnancy.

Authors: Hannah M. Brown, Ella S. Green, Tiffany C. Y. Tan, Macarena B. Gonzalez, Alice R. Rumbold, M. Louise Hull, Robert J. Norman, Nicolle H. Packer, Sarah A. Robertson & Jeremy G. Thompson.

Abstract: Diabetes has been linked with impaired fertility but the underlying mechanisms are not well defined. Here we use a streptozotocin-induced diabetes mouse model to investigate the cellular and biochemical changes in conceptus and maternal tissues that accompany hyperglycaemia. We report that streptozotocin treatment before conception induces profound intra-cellular protein β-O-glycosylation (O-GlcNAc) in the oviduct and uterine epithelium, prominent in early pregnancy. Diabetic mice have impaired blastocyst development and reduced embryo implantation rates, and delayed mid-gestation growth and development. Peri-conception changes are accompanied by increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokine Trail, and a trend towards increased Il1a, Tnf and Ifng in the uterus, and changes in local T-cell dynamics that skew the adaptive immune response to pregnancy, resulting in 60% fewer anti-inflammatory regulatory T-cells within the uterus-draining lymph nodes. Activation of the heat shock chaperones, a mechanism for stress deflection, was evident in the reproductive tract. Additionally, we show that the embryo exhibits elevated hyper-O-GlcNAcylation of both cytoplasmic and nuclear proteins, associated with activation of DNA damage (ɣH2AX) pathways. These results advance understanding of the impact of peri-conception diabetes, and provide a foundation for designing interventions to support healthy conception without propagation of disease legacy to offspring.

New Centre postdoc at Adelaide

31 January 2018:

CNBP welcomes its newest researcher to the team, Dr Thomas Avery who is based at the University of Adelaide.

Thomas was awarded a PhD in chemistry by The University of Adelaide in 2002 and completed post-doctoral positions at The University of Oxford (England) with Dr David Hodgson and The University of Adelaide with Dr Dennis Taylor. During his post-doctoral tenures, he developed a strong publication record in leading organic chemistry journals typically focused on probing the scope, mechanism and application of novel chemical reactions.

Transitioning to industry in 2008, Thomas contributed to new drug development for Adelaide based company Bionomics Ltd, as a Senior Research Scientist in the chemistry division. Bionomics provided him the opportunity to work on a diverse set of projects developing drug candidates in cancer therapeutics and for CNS indications. Most notably, he was chemistry lead for the program that led to the cognition/Alzheimer’s disease collaboration with Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) and more recently the pain collaboration, also partnered with MSD.

Thomas has now returned to an academic research role as a CNBP Research Fellow in Professor Andrew Abell’s group.

Building on his medicinal chemistry background he will work on projects to create potential medicaments and biosensors within the Centre. More specifically, his first project is to create Bortezomib-like proteasome inhibitors with improved selectivity and targeted mode of action employing photo-switchable moieties.

A big welcome to the CNBP team Thomas!

Nanoscale biophotonics for the ‘other’ brain

12 December 2017:

CNBP Director Prof Mark Hutchinson, The University of Adelaide has published a new review and commentary on the future of sensor development in the exciting new world of neuroimmunoscience!

Journal: Microelectronic Engineering.

Publication titleThe importance of knowing you are sick: Nanoscale biophotonics for the ‘other’ brain.

Author: Mark R. Hutchinson.

Abstract: A great new frontier in biomedical science has recently been discovered that requires the attention of technologists from diverse backgrounds to equip scientists with the tools needed to explore this great uncharted area. This new expanding domain is the exploration of the neuroimmune cells of the central nervous system, and their real-time function and contributions to the health and disease of the brain and spinal cord. Glia, once thought of as mere structural supports for the brain, are now appreciated to actively contribute to brain function. However, the true complexity of this system is still hidden from close examination, owing to a range of technological and methodological limitations. Here, some of these opportunities and challenges are outlined to expose the micro and nanoengineering community to this dynamic area of research, and to encourage innovation and technology application in the research of the “other brain”.