Malaria remains one of the world’s leading causes of mortality in developing countries. Last year alone, it killed more than 400,000 people, mostly young children. This week in ACS Central Science, an international consortium of researchers unveils the mechanics and findings of a unique “open science” project for malaria drug discovery that has been five years in the making.
The current gold standard antimalarial treatments are based on artemisinin, a compound developed in the 1970s in China, combined with a partner drug. Yet, resistance to artemisinin and its partners has already emerged in some parts of the world. If the resistance spreads, there are no viable replacement treatments. Given the lack of commercial incentive for industry to develop drugs for neglected diseases such as malaria, and because academic researchers often lack resources to move compounds forward, there is a clear need for new approaches. In response, Matthew Todd from the University of Sydney together with the not-for-profit research and development organization Medicines for Malaria Venture proposed an “open source” solution akin to the open source concept used in software development.
More than 50 researchers from 21 organizations in eight countries added their research to the project, which started with a large set of potential drug molecules made public by the company GlaxoSmithKline. Anyone willing to contribute — anywhere in the world — was welcome to share data and collaborate by adding comments to an electronic notebook as part of the Open Source Malaria Consortium. Some scientists designed and synthesized new generations of the antimalarial compounds; others ran assays and interpreted results. Several rounds of research were conducted, addressing water solubility and structural issues, with all the data being made public in real time. A wide array of scientists, from professors to undergraduates, participated by choice, agreeing that no one would individually seek patents to protect their contributions. The authors note that the current results, while promising, are merely the beginning of the story. They continue to welcome additional contributions, also researched openly and collaboratively.
A breakthrough by an Australian collaboration of researchers could make infra-red technology easy-to-use and cheap, potentially saving millions of dollars in defence and other areas using sensing devices, and boosting applications of technology to a host of new areas, such as agriculture.
Infra-red devices are used for improved vision through fog and for night vision and for observations not possible with visible light; high-quality detectors cost approximately $100,000 (including the device at the University of Sydney) some require cooling to -200°C.
Now, research spearheaded by researchers at the University of Sydney has demonstrated a dramatic increase in the absorption efficiency of light in a layer of semiconductor that is only a few hundred atoms thick – to almost 99 percent light absorption from the current inefficient 7.7 percent.
The findings will be published overnight in the high-impact journal Optica.
Co-author from the University of Sydney’s School of Physics, Professor Martijn de Sterke, said the team discovered perfect thin film light absorbers could be created simply by etching grooves into them.
The University of Sydney (commonly referred to as Sydney University, USyd, or Sydney) is an Australian public university in Sydney.
Founded in 1850, it is Australia’s first university and is regarded as one of its most prestigious, ranked as the 27th most reputable university in the world. In 2013, it was ranked 38th and in the top 0.3% in the QS World University Rankings. Five Nobel or Crafoord laureates have been affiliated with the university as graduates and faculty.
The University comprises 16 faculties and schools, through which it offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. In 2011 it had 32,393 undergraduate and 16,627 graduate students. The main campus spreads across the suburbs of Camperdown and Darlington on the southwestern outskirts of the Sydney CBD.
Sydney is a member of Australia’s Group of Eight, Academic Consortium 21, the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) and the Worldwide Universities Network. The University is also colloquially known as one of Australia’s sandstone universities.
The Latest Updated Research News:
University of Sydney research articles from Innovation Toronto
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Breakthrough could help address growing demand for the staple that already provides a fifth of global caloric intake.
An international team of scientists has identified a gene that can prevent some of the most significant wheat diseases—creating the potential to save more than a billion dollars in lost production in Australia each year.
Estimates put potential losses from wheat rust diseases in Australia alone at more than one-and-a-half billion dollars each year.Associate Professor Harbans Bariana
The findings should have wide-reaching ramifications, with wheat already providing a fifth of global caloric intake and set to spike in the next 50 years.
A gene that can prevent some of the most important wheat diseases has been identified—creating the potential to save more than a billion dollars in lost production in Australia each year.
In a global collaboration including the University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute (PBI), the CSIRO, CIMMYT (Mexico), University of Newcastle, Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, the gene Lr67 has been identified as providing resistance to three of the most important wheat rust diseases, along with powdery mildew, a significant disease in Norway.
The findings, published today in Nature Genetics, should have wide-reaching ramifications, with wheat already providing a fifth of global caloric intake and set to spike in the next 50 years.
Researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) and The University of Sydney have developed a world-first radio-tracking drone to locate radio-tagged wildlife.
Lead researcher Dr Debbie Saunders from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society said the drones have successfully detected tiny radio transmitters weighing as little as one gram. The system has been tested by tracking bettongs at the Mulligan’s Flat woodland sanctuary in Canberra.
“The small aerial robot will allow researchers to more rapidly and accurately find tagged wildlife, gain insights into movements of some of the world’s smallest and least known species, and access areas that are otherwise inaccessible,” Dr Saunders said.
“We have done more than 150 test flights and have demonstrated how the drones can find and map the locations of animals with radio tags.”
Researcher Oliver Cliff, from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) at the University of Sydney, said the technology had generated international interest.
“Lots of people are trying to do this. It is not an easy process, but we believe we’ve come up with a solution,” he said.
“We’ve had interest in our system from all around the world. We are still doing some fine tuning but we’ve achieved more than has ever been done before, which is exciting.”
Dr Saunders, a wildlife ecologist, came up with the idea eight years ago to track small dynamic migratory birds such as the endangered swift parrot.
The new system, funded by an ARC Linkage Project Grant and Loro Parque Foundacion, has been built and tested over the past two and a half years with Dr Robert Fitch and his team at the ACFR at the University of Sydney.
The robot consists of an off-the-shelf drone or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The custom-built miniature receiver and antenna provide real-time information on radio-tracked wildlife, which are mapped live on a laptop.
ANU Associate Professor Adrian Manning, also from the Fenner School of Environment and Society, has helped the team by attaching VHF and GPS collars on bettongs at Mulligan’s Flat.
“Radio tracking of collars manually is very time consuming,” Associate Professor Manning said.
“Early indications are that the drones could save a huge amount of time. If you have two operators working and they can put the drone up in two bursts of 20 minutes, they can do what would take half a day or more to do using ground methods.”
Read more: Drones used to track wildlife