Research highlights

Hitting the evolutionary jackpot

If you rewound the clock on evolution and replayed it, would you get the same outcome?

Dr Thomas Shafee, Dr Fung Lay, Dr Mark Hulett and Professor Marilyn Anderson have discovered a rare example where the answer is yes. This evolutionary quirk has been found in defensins, proteins produced by plants and animals that help protect them from infection.

The discovery will help scientists design improved versions for microbicides and crop protection. Read more.

Mapping new targets for antibiotics

Overuse of antibiotics and a shortage of new drugs could lead us into a post-antibiotic era, where common cuts become potentially life-threatening.

PhD student Shane Gordon and Dr Matthew Perugini, in collaboration with IBM Research – Australia, used supercomputers to map out potential targets for new antibiotics. Their findings, published in PLoS Computational Biology, are now featured in a new animation by Shane. See the clip.

Sepsis breakthrough

Sepsis or blood poisoning kills more people than HIV/AIDS, breast and prostate cancers combined. It is a condition where a systemic infection leads to multiple organ failure, immune paralysis and death.

Dr Hamsa Puthalakath and PhD student Marcel Doerflinger have identified the mechanism of immune cell death and developed a treatment strategy using a bile acid derivative. Their findings, published in Scientific Reports, may lead to new therapeutic options for the treatment of sepsis. Read more.

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