Tag Archives: International

CNBP conference veteran talks about his links to the Centre

Professor Dennis Matthews is one of CNBP’s oldest friends, having been coming to Australia from his home in California each year for nearly seven years as a member of its International Science Committee.

“I’ve actually been coming here since before the CNBP inception. They were just getting their act together for the initial grant when I first visited,” he says.

Professor Matthews was trained as physicist, but for most of his working life he has been involved in the development of medical devices.

His multidisciplinary life is reflected in his position as professor at University of California Davis in both the Department of Neurological Surgery and the College of Engineering. He was at one time also director of UC Davis’ Center for Biophotonics, Science, and Technology.

“I was hired into the neurological department not because I knew anything about neurosurgery but because they wanted their physicians to have more opportunity to do early stage research, even before it could be translated to the clinic,” he says.

He “abandoned physics 30 or 40 years ago”, drawn to things that were more hands-on and, around that time, he met a medical doctor who wanted to develop better instrumentation.
“I told him I didn’t know anything about medicine so he should go away. But he didn’t.”

That started a long history of working with doctors and bioscientists to develop technology that helped in their work.

“Biological scientists are incredibly smart at what they do but they are not so smart at measuring it,” he says.

“I don’t know what their problems are, of course, so they tell me what they are trying to achieve and I tell them ways to get at the solutions to their problems – and we help each other along the way.

“What I like about it, and CNBP works very nicely in this respect, is that you ‘bootstrap’ it. I tell the bioscientists I can do something but I’m not quite sure I know how to do it. So they challenge me to make technology progress at the same time.”

He believes CNBP has some unique strengths – “I wouldn’t travel around 13,000km to come here otherwise”.

Dennis Matthews presenting at CNBP’s 2019 conference

He was first introduced to the centre by the inaugural director, Professor Tanya Munro. “I thought she had an extremely good vision of where all this could go and perhaps an even better way of communicating that vision.” Since then, he says, current director Professor Mark Hutchinson has emerged as an incredible thought leader as well.

Professor Matthews says he likes the way the CNBP brings themes together and its “Mission Impossible” approach to throwing multidisciplinary teams of experts at problems.

As a technologist he was also drawn to the IPAS fibre optics group, and the way it was developing fibre sensors to interrogate places that might otherwise be invisible.
Two biological research themes particularly interested him.

“Many of the things here are important to me but there were two that were exceptional and that was Mark’s [Hutchinson] work on neuroscience applied to pain, and particularly his interest in developing a “painometer”.

He was also attracted to the IVF research under Chief Investigator Professor Jeremy Thompson.

“My daughter had two children by IVF and so my interests were already a bit piqued. But I was also interested to see if we could make the whole thing work better.”

Secondly was the possibility of making sure the highest quality embryos were developed and then implanted.

“That whole notion was extremely fascinating and provocative to me,” he says. “I think that we are going to learn how to make embryos healthier in normal conception. And if we can make the healthiest baby possible it can lead to a lifetime of good health.”

Personal experience also lay at the heart of his interest in Professor Hutchinson’s work on pain, which, while important to help people cope at a personal level, he sees as a potential solution to the opiate crisis.

“At the moment we are only delivering pain-masking drugs,” he says. “These powerful drugs don’t do anything except make people not care if they hurt – they still hurt.”

He is helping with the task of looking for biomarkers that might underpin such a measuring device.

“I think it’s possible, but I don’t know yet what the right measurements are,” Professor Matthews says. “And the problem with humans is there is no single recipe, so if we do get a panel of biomarkers that said my pain level was 6 it could be completely wrong for you.

“So we need some way to normalise it so we can say this is a baseline for an individual.”
Professor Matthews is particularly drawn to the CNBP’s focus on envisioning the ultimate translation of the technology.

“So instead of just filling the journals with more manuscripts it is also important in biosciences that you keep in mind that your work will, in the end, actually affect patients.

“The question we should always be asking is ‘how do we get doctors to have the latest technologies to work with?’.”

CNBP research wins Young Scientist Award

18 July 2019:

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.

Through the looking glass

Mark Hutchinson8 July 2019:

The paper, Stereochemistry and innate immune recognition, opens the door to potential future treatments for sepsis, chronic pain and other conditions that cause inflammation.

The paper’s origins can be traced back nearly 15 years to when CNBP Director Mark Hutchinson began work on a project as a post-doc in the US with Prof Linda Watkins’ team. The goal was to identify the molecular drivers and detection systems involved in causing chronic pain. It began a long journey, in the course of which Mark helped identify one of the detection systems – the Toll Like Receptor 4, or TLR4.

This discovery in turn uncovered a range of other detection and drug action properties of the TLR4 system, including the novel activity of the mirror image structures of a range of chemicals which had previously been thought to lack biological activity.

One of these new discoveries is highlighted in this paper.

For the first time, the mirror image of a well-used receptor blocker, norbinaltorphimine, has been found to be able to block the interaction of TLR4 with MD2, a protein that plays an important part in the body’s immune response.

You can read the paper here.

Journal: FASEB – the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Publication Title:  Stereochemistry and innate immune recognition: (+)-norbinaltorphimine targets myeloid differentiation protein 2 and inhibits toll-like receptor 4 signaling

Authors:  Xiaozheng Zhang, Yinghua Peng, Peter M. Grace, Matthew D. Metcalf, Andrew J. Kwilasz, Yibo Wang, Tianshu Zhang, Siru Wu, Brandon R. Selfridge, Philip S. Portoghese, Kenner C. Rice, Linda R. Watkins, Mark R. Hutchinson, and Xiaohui Wang

Abstract: Deregulation of innate immune TLR4 signaling contributes to various diseases including neuropathic pain and drug addiction. Naltrexone is one of the rare TLR4 antagonists with good blood-brain barrier permeability and showing no stereoselectivity for TLR4. By linking 2 naltrexone units through a rigid pyrrole spacer, the bivalent ligand norbinaltorphimine was formed. Interestingly, (+)-norbinaltorphimine ((+)-1) showed ∼25 times better TLR4 antagonist activity than naltrexone in microglia BV-2 cell line, whereas (−)-norbinaltorphimine ((−)-1) lost TLR4 activity. The enantioselectivity of norbinaltorphimine was further confirmed in primary microglia, astrocytes, and macrophages. The activities of meso isomer of norbinaltorphimine and the molecular dynamic simulation results demonstrate that the stereochemistry of (+)-1 is derived from the (+)-naltrexone pharmacophore. Moreover, (+)-1 significantly increased and prolonged morphine analgesia in vivo. The efficacy of (+)-1 is long lasting. This is the first report showing enantioselective modulation of the innate immune TLR signaling.

Key Words: norbinaltorphimine; enantioselective modulation; TLR4; MD-2; morphine analgesia

Henan University visit

Prof Jim Piper2 April 2019:

CNBP Chief Investigators at Macquarie University, Prof Jim Piper and Prof Nicole Packer, as well as CNBP Associate Investigator Dr Bingyang Shi have met with delegates from Henan University led by Prof. Yang Zhonghua, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Henan University Vice President.

Henan University, founded in 1912, is located in Kaifeng, China and is known globally for its strength in the Biology discipline. Discussed at the meeting were CNBP research areas and projects, as well as the potential for collaboration. Prof. Piper and Prof. Packer were invited to visit Henan University for further talks later in the year.

L to R – Prof Nicole Packer, Prof. Yang Zhonghua, Prof Jim Piper and Dr Bingyang Shi.

 

 

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.

QST partner launch

15 October 2018:

The ‘National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology (QST)’ has been announced as a partner organisation of the CNBP at an official launch event held in Japan, October 15th, 2018.

The QST, a merger of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS) with operations that were previously undertaken by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), undertakes research and development into quantum science and technology, the effect of radiation on humans, radiation emergency medicine, and the medical use of radiation.

“The QST / CNBP partner launch was a huge success,” said CNBP Deputy Director A/Prof Brant Gibson, RMIT University.

“Our partner launch activities occurred over two site locations  of the QST – Takasaki and Chiba, Japan.”

“At the Takasaki ‘materials’ site I presented the CNBP partner plaque to Hisayoshi Itoh (pictured top left), Director General of the Takasaki site (Takasaki Advanced Radiation Research Institute).”

“Our delegation then moved to the Chiba ‘medical’ site of QST (National Institute of Radiological Sciences). There they have a medical high energy carbon irradiation facility – of which there are only two existent globally – the other is in Heidelberg in Germany. We had the opportunity to meet with Yoshiya Shimada, Executive Director of the entire QST at the Chiba site where I presented the CNBP plaque a second time,” he said.

The CNBP / QST partnership launch coincided with the launch of a 3 year International Research Initiative (entitled Quantum biosensors in wide bandgap semiconductors) between QST and researchers from RMIT, CNBP, The University of Melbourne, CQC2T and the Fraunhofer IAF.

“This initiative will focus on fostering strategic collaboration between Japan, Australia and Germany through short to long term visits from researchers focused in the area of quantum biology,” said A/Prof Gibson.

Below – A/Prof Brant Gibson with Yoshiya Shimada, Executive Director of the QST.

Below – QST and CNBP delegates pose for a partner launch photo at the QST Chiba site.

Launch of CNBP and CU partnership

15 August 2017:

The University of Colorado Boulder (CU) and the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) have officially announced their research partnership status at a launch event that took place at CU today.

The collaboration between the CNBP, an Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence, and the University of Colorado Boulder, will explore the use of novel CNBP biophotonics tools and techniques to examine in real-time, neuroinflammatory processes that govern behavior.

The novel immune sensing technologies developed at CNBP will allow circuit-specific measurement of immune molecule release during stress-related paradigms in rodents performed at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The overarching goal of the collaboration is to better inform intervention efforts
focused on stress- and ageing-related diseases.

Partner Investigators at CU are Professor Steven Maier and Professor Linda Watkins with CU’s Dr Michael Baratta (the successful recipient of the CNBP-American Australian Association Fellowship in 2016), also working closely with this partnership.

Below: CNBP Director Prof Mark Hutchinson (left) presents a partner plaque to Partner Investigators – Professor Steven Maier and Professor Linda Watkins.

 

Cambridge visit furthers research

10 August 2017:

After successfully receiving an ANN Overseas Travel Fellowship, CNBP researcher Dr Peipei Jia has arrived back at the University of Adelaide after a two month visit to the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge, UK.

While there, Peipei had the opportunity to test both techniques and potential application for his work on the fabrication of large-area freestanding gold nanomembranes.

More specifically, tests undertaken while at Cambridge showed that the gold membrane had the size, quality and robustness  for the critical application of resolving molecular structures in Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM).

Work continues but the nanophotonics structure is expected to have significant impact on both structural biology and electron microscopy.

CNBP researcher at ICMAT and in China

5 July 2017:

CNBP Researcher, Dr Yu, from the University of Adelaide, presented recent findings on “Gating Electron Transfer in Peptides Towards Molecular Switches” at the International Conference on Materials for Advanced Technologies, commonly known as ICMAT 2017, held in Singapore, 18-24 June. It attracted more than 2,500 delegates from all over the world.

Following the ICMAT 2017, Dr Yu made a trip to Chongqing University, one of 985 project Universities in China. An invited lecture was given to the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and he met with Professors Xiaohua Chen, Yi Xu, and Lingjie Li.

While in Chongqing, he also made a visit to the microfabrication facilities, including the MEMS, Wafer Lithography and clean room at the Centre of MicroFabrication and MicroSystems, Chongqing University. Networking provided a number of possible future collaborations.

Below – Dr Yu presenting CNBP science at Chongqing University.

China visit by Centre researcher

16 May 2017:

On a recent trip to China, CNBP Research Fellow A/Prof Guozhen Liu undertook a number of visits and talks, discussing her advanced sensing, nano-particle and bio-imaging work. This included:

5 May-8 May: Attendance at the International Congress on Analytical Sciences 2017 (ICAS2017) at Kaikou, China. Here Guozhen gave an oral presentation with the title “Engineering reduced graphen oxides towards a label-free electrochemical immunosensor for detection of tumor necrosis factor-alpha.”

11 May: Guozhen gave an invited talk titled, “Nanotools for cytokine monitoring in neuroscience” at Prof Zhihong Zhang’s research team at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan. Prof Zhang is one of CNBP’s Partner Investigators at HUST.

13-14 May: Guozhen provided a keynote speech, titled, “An optical fibre based ex-vivo device for detection of cytokines” at the 2nd International Congress on Biomedical Imaging and Signal Processing (ICBISP 2017) at Wuhan.

Below: A/Prof Guozhen Liu (right) visiting CNBP Partner Investigator Prof Zhihong Zhang.