[ASC-media] Aussie lizard reveals cancer secrets and other stories

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Mon Jun 28 05:15:40 CEST 2010

Dear ASC'ers

This is my occasional bulletin about current and coming science stories.

Today we've released a story about a common Australian lizard that's revealing the secrets of cancer. Bridget Murphy, a 2010 Fresh Scientist, has discovered a compound produced by a pregnant lizard that may provide important information on the origins and treatment of cancer in humans. Full story below, pictures online and she's available for interview on 0403 965 403.

On Wednesday we will reveal a future of printable lights and tv screens where you'll pop down to Officeworks to buy some ink if you want a new light for the bedroom! It's embargoed to 7 am Wednesday morning. Let me know if you want details on embargo.

On Thursday and Friday University of Sydney is hosting 'biophotonics' gurus. Yes, the scientists are making up new words again. In this case it's about using light in biomedical devices - from lasers to measure tooth decay; silk biochips that could run a battery of tests on your blood - without the sample even leaving your body let alone going to the lab and much more.

Next week we explore how chemistry is changing the world at a national chemistry conference - RACI 2010: Chemistry for a Sustainable World<http://www.raci2010.org/> opens in Melbourne on Sunday.

And we'll have  a host of stories on the future of pesticides - tricky topic - but without pest and weed control our food would be much more expensive. What does the future hold as the chemists get smarter and better target the pests.  And will they avoid the mistakes of the past. The 12th IUPAC International Congress of Pesticide Chemistry <http://www.raci2010.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=43&Itemid=66> also opens in Melbourne on Sunday.

There's some interesting people talking physics around the country over the next month. They include:

*         Black holes at the Large Hadron Collider - Elizabeth Winstanley from Sheffield, UK in Canberra on 28 July.

*         Angels and Demons - the real CERN, Susanna Guatelli in Sydney on 29 June

*         Adventures in wide-field astronomy - Elaine Sadler in Hobart

*         The Mars Science Laboratory - Adrian Brown from NASA/SETI speaking at the RI in Adelaide.

For more on these visit the Australian Institute of Physics' new event calendar at http://www.scienceinpublic.com/blog/aip-events

Finally don't forget that this year's Fresh Scientists are available for interview. Stories released to date include:

*         Waste is a waste: Pigs reduce the burden on the oceans - Andrew Ward, South Australian Research and Development Institute

*         Join reversal eases arthritis - Dave Ackland, The University of Melbourne

*         Electric plastics: Better bionic eyes and ears - Rylie Green, Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, University of New South Wales

*         More at www.freshscience.org<http://www.freshscience.org>

For more information on any of these stories call me on 03 9398 1416, visit www.scienceinpublic.com.au/blog<http://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/blog> or follow scienceinpublic on twitter.

Kind regards,


Aussie lizard reveals cancer secrets
Wednesday 30 June 2010

[cid:image002.jpg at 01CB16C4.01164970]A compound produced by a pregnant lizard may provide important information on the origins and treatment of cancer in humans, according to zoologist Bridget Murphy from the University of Sydney, who discovered the protein, which is pivotal to the development of the lizard placenta.

"Our egg-laying ancestors probably never got cancer, but things changed when we started having live young. Embryos need an extensive network of blood vessels to allow them to grow. So do tumours.  I found that the three-toed skink, which gives birth to live young, uses a particularly powerful protein to encourage the growth of blood vessels. The only other place where this protein has been found is in pre-cancerous cells grown in the laboratory," she says.

Future research on unlocking the secrets of how the protein works might well provide the basis of new therapies for cancer, and to promote wound healing or the regeneration of blood vessels in patients with heart disease. Bridget's work is being presented for the first time in public through Fresh Science, a communication boot camp for early career scientists held at the Melbourne Museum. She was one of 16 winners from across Australia.

*         Full story and photos at http://freshscience.org.au/?p=2006

*         Interviews - call Bridget on 0403 965 403 or email bridget.murphy at sydney.edu.au<mailto:bridget.murphy at sydney.edu.au>

Joint reversal eases arthritis

A shoulder-joint implant, with the ball and socket on the opposite bones from nature, can significantly improve the quality of life of patients with severe arthritis and tendon tears, says medical engineer David Ackland from the University of Melbourne.

In a search for a more effective replacement joint, David and his colleagues looked at the counterintuitive 'reverse' implant, which was designed and manufactured in the US by Zimmer, Inc. Their tests on the Zimmer implant showed that it stabilises the joint and increases the range of movement of arthritic shoulders.

*         Read the full media release at here<http://freshscience.org.au/?p=1931> or call David Ackland on 0407 823 190

Waste is a waste: 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. For interviews contact Andrew on 0410 389 528.

*         Read the full media release at here<http://freshscience.org.au/?p=1829> or call Andrew Ward on 0410 389 528.

Electric plastics: 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.

*         Read the full media release here<http://freshscience.org.au/?p=1831> or call Rylie Green on 0410 668 459

The Fresh Scientists presented their work for the first time at Fresh Science - a national science communication boot camp based at the Melbourne Museum.

They are four of the 16 winners from across Australia. 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>.

The 2010 Institute of Photonics and Optical Science Symposium is a two-day meeting. Invited speakers include:

PROF. DEMETRI PSALTIS, Dean of Engineering at EPF Lausanne and previously held the Thomas G. Myers Professor of Electrical Engineering, at Caltech, in Pasadena, CA, USA.

*         Plenary talk about the new and dynamic field of marrying photonics and microfluidics with bio-science sensing applications.

*         Opportunities for using microfluidics and photonics in bio- sciences and medicine.

PROF. FIOERENZO OMENETTO leads the laboratory for Ultrafast Nonlinear Optics and Biophotonics at Tufts University.

*         The impact of photonics in biomaterials on the bio-sciences and medical detection.

*         Issues in approaching biomaterials from a photonics perspective, bridging the gap between photonics and bio-sciences.

PROF. HOLGER SCHMIDT, Director of the W.M. Keck Center for Nanoscale Optofluidics.

*         Talk on cell manipulation using photonic chips which exemplifies the blending of the biological and photonics.

*         Dealing with complex biological species in photonics devices and their potential applications.

Further information on biophotonics from Peter Domachuk, ARC Postdoctoral Fellow and 2010 Fresh Scientist, +61 (434) 390225, peter.domachuk at sydney.edu.au<mailto:peter.domachuk at sydney.edu.au>, http://sydney.edu.au/ipos/news_events/events/symposium.shtml

For all the other stories call me.


Niall Byrne

Creative Director, Science in Public

03 9398 1416, 0417 131 977
Twitter scienceinpublic

niall at scienceinpublic.com.au<mailto:niall at scienceinpublic.com.au>

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