Tag Archives: the Lead South Australia

breast cancer

Breast cancer probe detects deadly cells

Featured image above: Dr Erik Shartner with the prototype optical fibre sensor, which can detect breast cancer during surgery. Credit: University of Adelaide

An optical fibre probe has been developed to detect breast cancer tissue during surgery.

Working with excised breast cancer tissue, researchers from the University of Adelaide developed the device to differentiate cancerous cells from healthy ones.

Project leader at the Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) Dr Erik Schartner said the probe could reduce the need for follow-up surgery, which is currently required in up to 20 per cent of breast cancer cases.

“At the moment most of the soft tissue cancers use a similar method during surgery to identify whether they’ve gotten all the cancer out, and that method is very crude,” he says.

“They’ll get some radiology beforehand which tells them where the cancer should be, and the surgeon then will remove it to the best of their ability.

“But the conclusive measurements are done with pathology a couple of days or a couple of weeks after the surgery, so the patient is sown back up, thinks the cancer is removed and then they discover two weeks later with a call from the surgeon that they need to go through this whole traumatic process again.”

The probe allows more accurate measurements be taken during surgery, with the surgeon provided with information via an LED light.

Using a pH probe tip, a prototype sensor was able to distinguish cancerous and healthy cells with 90 per cent accuracy.

The research behind the probe, published today in Cancer Research, found pH was a useful tool to distinguish the two types of tissue because cancerous cells naturally produce more acid during growth.

Currently the probe is aimed for use solely for treating breast cancer, but there is some possibility for it to be used as both a diagnostic tool and during other removal surgeries.

“The method we’re using, which is basically measuring the pH of the tissue, actually looks to be common across virtually all cancer types,” Schartner says.

“We can actually see there’s some scope there for diagnostic application for things like thyroid cancer, or even melanoma, which is something we’re following up.

“The question is more about the application as to how useful it is during surgery, to be able to get this identification, and in some of the other soft tissue cancers it would be useful as well.”

Earlier this year, researchers from CNBP also developed a fibre optic probe,  which could be used to examine the effects of drug use on the brain.

Schartner said both probes were noteworthy because they were far thinner than previously developed models at only a few microns across.

“The neat thing we see about this one is that it’s a lot quicker than some of the other commercial offerings and also the actual sample size you can measure is much smaller, so you get better resolution,” he says.

Researchers on the probe hope to progress to clinical trials in the near future, with a tentative product launch date in the next three years.

Also in Adelaide, researchers at the University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute are developing tiny sensors that can detect the spread of cancer through the lymphatic system while a patient is having surgery to remove primary tumours, which could also dramatically reduce the need for follow up operations.

– Thomas Luke 

This article was first published by The Lead South Australia on 29 November 2016. Read the original article here.

water software

Software saves rainwater

Featured image above: Stadium Australia in Sydney Olympic Park Credit: Tim Keegan

A dynamic software program utilising kinetic energy is helping buildings with large roof areas in Southeast Asia harvest and recycle rainwater.

Freshwater scarcity and wastage is a global environmental issue, leading to nations such as Malaysia to seek siphonic drainage solutions to help recycle the precious resource.

Researchers at the University of South Australia have developed a software package to help roof drainage companies construct highly effective systems across a range of major infrastructure.

The Adelaide-based university’s Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Division of Information Technology, Engineering and the Environment Simon Beecham said the dynamic program was the first in the world to follow rainfall through its entire cycle to ensure complete effectiveness.

Stadium Australia, which hosted the athletics and opening ceremony at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, was the first structure to utilise the technology.

“Now a number of large buildings in Southeast Asia are using this technology, like the airports in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia has incorporated it into many of its shopping centres as well,” Beecham says.

“The buildings that were designed with the help of the software are able to harvest every single drop of water.”

The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in Malaysia, which hosts a number of large conferences, exhibitions, and concerts, is another big adopter of the technology.

The rainwater collected from the roofs is stored in large tanks and used to irrigate nearby fields or gardens. The recycled water is also used for the flushing of toilets to reduce the reliance on potable water.

Beecham partners with Australian drainage company Syfon to design state-of-the-art systems throughout Australasia.

His software allows Syfon to calculate the size of drainpipes and locate where hydraulic chambers need to be placed.

The company’s name is a play on siphonic systems, the method it uses to harvest rainwater.

Siphonic drainage systems convert open-air water mixtures into a pure water pressure system without any moving parts or electronics. Its hydraulic system allows the pipes to move large quantities of water very quickly.

Beecham says siphonic systems were used because the high pressures they created reduced the amount of additional energy required to pump water.

“Imagine if you had a pen in your hand and held it up and then dropped it to the floor. That’s an example of a solid object converting its potential energy into kinetic energy,” he says.

“Water can do the same thing. You get a very efficient drainage of your water where the pressure is so great it can even go uphill, and it also means you can run horizontal pipes for long distances.

“Its clever design of the hydraulics system creates a vacuum that sucks water in and converts the potential energy of rainfall into kinetic energy.”

This process allows large storage tanks to be placed away from the roof structure if more space is required.

Siphonic systems require a building of more than three stories to work and cannot be applied to residential homes.

-Caleb Radford 

This article was first published by The Lead South Australia on 4th May 2016. Read the original article here

schoolstar

Parents and schools connect

Developed by MGM Wireless Limited in Adelaide, South Australia, School Star is a secure mobile phone app that keeps parents in the loop about attendance, functions and other school news.

MGM Wireless invented the world’s first SMS based automated communication solution for schools in 2002.

Almost 1300 schools from around Australia use MGM’s communications system and half of them will be active users of the new School Star app within the next six months.

MGM Wireless CEO Mark Fortunatow said the company plans to take the app internationally after its success in Australia.

“We are formulating plans and strategies and hope to move in to the United States and Canada by the end of the calendar year,” he says.

“We also have partners and people in Shenzhen and Singapore that we have been working with for some time and have a network in place there already.”

School Star has a Facebook-styled news feed that can be regularly updated and is the only school app that allows direct two-way messaging between parents and schools with an SMS failover.

“Parents need a feedback loop. School Star does that and a number of other things that no other school app does,” Fortunatow says.

“Communication through other school apps gets to about 40% of the intended recipients at best.

“School Star will automatically send messages and content by SMS instead if parents run out of mobile data or don’t have access to Wi-Fi – so schools will reach almost 100% of parents.

“It is also unique because it promises a secure environment where only approved users can access school information.”

Schools install MGM’s content management system and enter in relevant news and information for parents.

Parents and students then register themselves using a secure two-factor verification process and once complete will allow users access to school information.

Only registered users from the current school database can use the school specific School Star app. It also allows the schools to ‘lock out’ unwanted users.

MGM ensures that sensitive information like names, photographs, dates, and places are kept secure at all times.

“Schools are loving School Star – they can publish news and send messages with a smooth interface and easy integration path,” Fortunatow says.

“News articles are easy to create, and parents love keeping in touch with what’s going on at the school.”

“School Star includes an engagement dashboard with state-of-the-art analytics so schools know which content is working best.”

School Star is available to download for free in the App Store and Google Play in Australia and will be available in the United States and Canada later this year.

– Caleb Radford

This article was first published by The Lead South Australia on 27th April 2016. Read the original article here.