Research highlights

Smart microscope slides detect cancer

An innovative microscope slide, NanoMslide, developed at LIMS is promising to revolutionise medical imaging after researchers demonstrated that it can be used to detect breast cancer cells in patients.A study published in Nature demonstrates that by modifying the surface of conventional microscope slides at the nanoscale, biological structures and cells take on a striking colour contrast which can be used to instantly detect disease. Project lead, Professor Brian Abbey has spent the past five years developing the technology at La Trobe University with co-inventor Dr Eugeniu Balaur and Dr Belinda Parker at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Discovery makes the invisible visible

LIMS scientists have discovered a new way to analyse microscopic cells, tissues and other transparent specimens, through the improvement of an almost 100-year-old imaging technique. A research team including Prof Brian Abbey, Dr Jacqueline Orian and Dr Eugeniu Balaur from LIMS along with scientists at the Peter McCallum Cancer Centre, the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University and IIT has the potential to advance research into the understanding and detection of disease. Project leader and La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science (LIMS) physicist, Professor Brian Abbey, said the discovery allows scientists to detect minute changes in the composition or structure of transparent or nano-thin objects, enabling their key features and structures to be visible when put under a microscope. Read their Nature phonics paper.

New class of nanostructured materials

Scientific research that crosses borders has a global impact. An international collaborative effort led by LIMS involving Monash University, The University of Queensland, A*STAR in Singapore and Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin yielded a new class of nanostructured materials. Professor Adam Mechler from LIMS acknowledges the collaborative efforts of the team of scientists from around the globe in the development of molecular building blocks suitable to form so-called metallosupramolecular frameworks, where small molecular units that fit together like tiny LEGO bricks spontaneously assemble into complex superstructures of controlled geometry. As a proof of principle, sheets of sub-nanometre thickness but over 100x100 micrometre area were successfully created. These materials offer a platform to develop nanotechnological applications such as molecular electronics and functional surface coatings. This research, published in Materials Advances, involved a La Trobe University team including Prof Adam Mechler, Dr Rania Seoudi and Dr Norton West.

Understanding cholesterol at the nanoscale

LIMS Researchers have identified why cholesterol is important to our health at the molecular level. The molecule sits at the outer layer of our cells, known as the cell membrane, and contributes to important biological processes like cell communication.  A team led by Dr Shanshan Kou, Professor Adam Mechler, Professor Brian Abbey and Dr Arif Siddiquee have used a new scientific technique to examine the composition of these cell membranes at the nanoscale.  Their findings, published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, identify where cholesterol is found in cell membranes, and why.