Lab+Life Scientist Oct 2014

Page 18

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movers&shakers

Placental stem cells The placenta and its resident stem cells are usually discarded after childbirth, but not any more. Researchers from The University of Queensland have worked out how to extract the multitudes of endothelial stem cells from the life-giving organ that connects the developing foetus to the maternal uterine wall. Endothelial stem cells are present in large quantities in the placenta, but until now isolating them in sufficient quantities for use in medicine has not been possible.

confident about developing treatments in which they

Oceanographic research instrument arrives in Hobart

can use the stem cells.

An oceanographic research instrument, which will be part of the onboard equipment on the research

Each placenta reportedly contains enough stem cells to treat 100 patients, so the researchers are

“One of the therapies we are exploring will

vessel Investigator, has arrived at CSIRO in Hobart.

benefit patients with any condition where blood

The Triaxus, purchased from underwater technology company MacArtney Australia, is made from

supply to tissues is severely restricted, such as heart

carbon fibre. It is hydrodynamically designed to be towed up to 3 km behind the ship and to collect

issues,” said study leader Associate Professor Kiarash

data quickly, while ‘flying’ from the surface down to 350 m.

Khosrotehrani.

“The scientists on board Investigator will be able to control the flight path of the Triaxus to develop a 2D picture of the ocean across hundreds of kilometres,” said Toni Moate, the executive director of the Future Research Vessel Project. Biological oceanographers will use the device to determine the health of the ocean, collecting data on phytoplankton, salinity, temperature and light levels. Physical oceanographers will collect data about ocean currents descending undersea canyons, or when cooler waters are forced to the surface by ocean dynamics. Meteorologists will meanwhile improve weather and climate forecasting.

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Dr Lindsay Pender from the Future Research Vessel Project Technical Team said it is critical to understand how the ocean interplays with the production of phytoplankton. “The Triaxus will be used to estimate the amount of phytoplankton (small floating plants), which are the start of the food chain in the oceans,” Dr Pender said. “The equipment collects the data by shining a blue light onto the phytoplankton, which then emits a fluorescent signal. “The returning fluorescent signal is measured by a fluorometer mounted on the Triaxus, and In the developing embryo, endothelial stem cells produce the endothelial cells that form the lining of

these data are used to determine where fish and other animals in the ocean start their lives, and the location of their food sources.”

the blood and lymphatic systems. “We have recently discovered that endothelial stem cells form new blood vessels when injected

“We have conducted experiments in mice with

Vaxxas, WHO explore Nanopatch polio vaccines

restricted blood flow and this has revealed that injected

Vaxxas has commenced a WHO-funded research project involving the use of its nanopatch technology

endothelial stem cells spur blood vessel growth and

to deliver vaccines for polio.

into the body,” said Khosrotehrani, adding that lab experiments were looking promising.

improve blood flow by up to 30 to 40% in just two weeks,” Associate Professor Khosrotehrani said.

The project will cover pre-clinical studies and good manufacturing practices (GMP) research. The company and the WHO are evaluating whether nanopatch can contribute to the complete eradication of polio.

“This therapy would be a real breakthrough for

Incidents of the debilitating disease have been reduced by an estimated 99% since 1988, when

patients with conditions such as type 2 diabetes or

more than 350,000 cases were being diagnosed every year. Vaxxas is now making a push to eradicate the

ischaemia, where blood flow is restricted, resulting in

remaining strains forever.

intense pain, or wounds that won’t heal.” The research is the subject of a patent application

Vaxxas’s nanopatch vaccine delivery technology has a nuymber of advantages over conventional syringes. For example, it is less invasive delivering a vaccine to immune cells via the skin , rather than into the blood.

and the research team, with the support of UQ

Nanopatches prepared with vaccines also do not require refrigeration to maintain efficiency, which is

commercialisation company UniQuest, is seeking

important factor for the transportation and application of polio vaccine in the remote regions of the world.

funding for clinical trials. The researchers hope to

Vaxxas plans to pursue licensing deals for the nanopatch technology as well as develop vaccine

start clinical trials in humans in 2015.

18 | LAB+LIFE SCIENTIST - October 2014

candidates of its own.

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