Brisbane is winning a reputation as one of the world’s
premier hubs for biomedical research, with scientists at QUT, QIMR Berghofer
and Griffith University’s Menzies Health Institute all working on breakthrough
developments aimed at improving the quality of life for everyone.
Professor Mia Woodruff is one of those whose work will have a dramatic impact.
Working at QUT’s Biofabrication and Tissue Morphology Group, Prof Woodruff is
developing technology to allow the 3D-printing of tissue and cartilage cells.
The short term
goal is to develop a technology that will permit the biofabrication of
prosthetic ears for children born with the debilitating condition of microtia.
Microtia is a
congenital defect where infants are born with either no ear or an undeveloped
ear. Prof Woodruff hopes to develop the 3D printing technology to the point
where prosthetic ears will be available to children and others with microtia
for less than the cost of a pair of eyeglasses.
Over time, she
hopes to develop the technology to the point where specialised 3D printers can
print biocompatible materials to augment other parts of the body and its
organs. This could be especially useful for soldiers who are injured in the
line of duty on the battlefield.
Woodruff was born in Yorkshire, UK, and arrived in Brisbane in 2006 after
completing her PhD at the University of Nottingham followed by postdoctoral
research at the National University of Singapore.
She is an
internationally recognised expert in bone tissue engineering and
biofabrication, and her many accolades include winning the Queensland Young
Tall Poppy Science Award in 2013.
to be working with an incredibly talented multidisciplinary team. Together with
Metro North Hospital and Health service, QUT recognised the importance of
co-locating medical technology research on a hospital campus, with access to
patients and clinicians to really drive new technology development and have an
impact on patient quality of life. To lead this initiative is a dream come
true,” Prof Woodruff said.
scientist doing cutting edge research, this time in the area of cancer and
genomics, is Nic Waddell, at QIMR Berhofer.
Ms Waddell and
her team are working with computer scientists to analyse data from a technique
called next generation sequencing (NGS). They use a complex system of computer
hardware and custom-created software to analyse NGS data looking for mutations
in the genomes of cancer cells, and are focused on a range of cancers including
pancreatic cancer and melanoma.
identifying the underlying genetic landscape of tumours and we now know what is
driving some tumours," she said.
can use that information to look at why some people are potentially predisposed
to tumours and also we can start to understand how we might treat tumours much
better in the future."
“Cancer is a
disease of the genome, so what happens is that a normal cell will acquire
errors or mutations in the DNA of that cell and over time if those mutations
hit a key part of the genome the normal cell can start growing uncontrollably
or behaving incorrectly and it might lead to cancer.
Berghofer launched genomiQa, a company that is the first of its kind in
Australia. It offers hospitals, clinicians and companies whole genome analysis
of cancer to help tailor treatments for individual cancer diagnoses.
being offered now might focus on just one mutation, one gene or a selection of
genes, but genomiQa will focus on whole genome sequencing and we are the first
Australian company to concentrate on whole genome analysis as a service,” Dr
biofabrication and cancer genomics, Brisbane is also a world-leading centre for
Working out of
one of the best social robotics laboratories in the world at Brisbane’s
Griffith University Professor Wendy Moyle said her world-leading research into
robotics was focused on making life easier for people with dementia.
“Most of my
work is involved in improving the quality of life for people with dementia and
also their family carers,” she said.
Prof Moyle and
her team which includes neuropsychologists, pharmacists, psychiatrists, IT
specialists and engineers, are weeks away from publishing the results of the
world’s most sophisticated clinical trial into the use of robots, specifically,
the use of PARO, a robot that looks and acts like a baby harp seal and is used
in place of a live animal.
The PARO robot
is being trialled with 415 people with dementia across 28 nursing homes in
South East Queensland. Developed in Japan, PARO is soft, cuddly and can
interact and communicate with people by encouraging them to show it love and
Moyle’s research found that PARO was able to give people with dementia greater
levels of comfort, pleasure, stimulation and joy than either a non-robotic
fluffy toy or usual patient care.
PARO was also
found to ease a number of the behavioural and psychological symptoms of
these leading researchers demonstrate that Brisbane, and Queensland as a whole
is taking a place as a location for cutting edge biomedical and robotics
This article was originally published on InnovationAus. You can read the original article here.