Forum focuses on giant leaps from tiny steps

chris-francoThe miniaturised world of bugs that produce lifesaving drugs and implanted sensors that detect cancer cells will be the focus of a special forum this week.

Flinders University’s Professor Chris Franco [pictured] and Professor Nicolas Voelcker will share some of their latest research as guest speakers at Bio Innovation SA’s 49th Networking Forum, to be held from 5.30-8.30pm, Thursday 29 April at Flinders University Victoria Square.

Professor Franco, who is Head of the Department of Medical Biotechnology, will talk about actinomycete microbes, used in the pharmaceutical industry to produce drugs such as antibiotics and immuno-suppressants, which prevent organ rejection in transplant patients.

“The search for new sources of these ‘talented’ microbes led to the discovery of unique populations that live within healthy plants. Further research showed that they are also immensely useful in agriculture, helping to make some crops resistant to disease and to promote plant growth,” Professor Franco said.

Professor Voelcker will talk about the revolutionary ‘nano-material’, porous silicon, and some of its practical applications that have the potential to transform our way of life.

“Our research on porous silicon spans many areas – from using porous silicon biosensors for early cancer detection, to improving the slow-release delivery of drugs to specific sites in the body, and treating eye disease through cell transfer technology,” Professor Voelcker said.

“We are also using high-throughput technology to examine the interaction between human cells and synthetic materials that may ultimately allow us to identify and treat disease and regenerate tissues,” he said.

The event will chaired by Dr Damien Keating, Bio Innovation SA Molecular Neuroscience Research Fellow and will include an opportunity to network with representatives from academia, business and government.

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