[ASC-media] Wealth from waste, better bionics and insulin to go

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Thu Jun 10 02:51:41 CEST 2010


Dear ASCers,

A biotechnologist from South Australia is feeding pig waste to bacteria, bacteria to algae, algae to water bugs and water bugs to fish. His 'waste food chain' can be applied to breweries, wineries and any system producing organic waste. It saves money, waste, energy and water.

A Monash researcher has created a tougher form of insulin that survives outside the fridge. It could help diabetes sufferers everywhere from the city to remote Africa.

And a young UNSW researcher has created conductive bioplastics which will transform the performance of bionic devices such as the cochlear ear and the proposed bionic eye. We were taught at school that plastics don't conduct. That's not true anymore.

The three are all winners of Fresh Science - a national competition recognising the discoveries of younger scientists.

Here's a summary of their stories.

The full releases are online with pictures at www.freshscience.org<http://www.freshscience.org/> and they're all available for interview today. Give me a call on 0417 131 977.

They also have a press briefing at 10.15 am this morning at the Melbourne Museum.

Pigs reduce the burden on the oceans

A biotechnologist from the South Australian Research and Development Institute has taken using "everything but the pig's squeal" to new lengths.

Through clever recycling of pig waste, Andrew Ward has been able to produce feed for aquaculture, water for irrigation, and methane for energy. His 'waste food chain' can be applied to breweries, wineries and any system producing organic waste.

He's done it by taking traditional approaches from China, India and Vietnam, some new ideas and a lot of streamlining and integration to make a system that will meet Australian needs and standards.

"We can turn waste into food, save money, save water, and improve the environment just by being a bit smarter," says Andrew.

Insulin that doesn't need a fridge or a needle?

A young Monash University chemist and her colleagues have successfully strengthened insulin's chemical structure without affecting its activity. Their new insulin won't require refrigeration.

All they need now is a commercial partner to guide their product through the long process from laboratory to patient - which will probably take about a decade.

"Over two hundred million people need insulin to manage diabetes, but we still don't how it works at a molecular level," says Bianca van Lierop.

Electric plastics for better bionic eyes and ears

A young UNSW researcher has created conductive bioplastics which will transform the performance of bionic devices such as the cochlear ear and the proposed bionic eye.

"Our plastics will lead to smaller devices that use safer smaller currents and that encourage nerve interaction," says biomedical engineer Rylie Green.

"The plastics can carry natural proteins which will aid the survival of damaged and diseased nerves," Rylie says. Her research was published in Biomaterials earlier this year.

Her plastics are already being tested in prototype bionic eyes and she hopes they will find application in bionic ears, robotic limbs - wherever researchers are attempting to integrate electronics with the human body.



For Fresh Science, contact Sarah Brooker on 0413 332 489 or Niall Byrne on 0417 131 977 or niall at freshscience.org<mailto:niall at freshscience.org>

For full stories and photos visit www.freshscience.org.au<http://www.freshscience.org.au>.







-------------
Niall Byrne

Science in Public
26 Railway Street South, Altona Vic 3018

ph +61 (3) 9398 1416 or 0417 131 977
niall at scienceinpublic.com.au<mailto:niall at scienceinpublic.com.au>

Full contact details at www.scienceinpublic.com.au<http://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/>

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