CNBP is developing light-based sensing tools, which can measure in real time, complex chemical and molecular processes, in the living body and in other dynamic biological environments.

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Detection, measurement and quantification of biologically and clinically relevant molecules, including small molecule metabolites, proteins, peptides and nucleic acids is central to understanding their functions in living organisms. Yet despite decades of effort, key challenges remain.

Biomolecular sensing must be carried out at appropriate length scales. The information about nanoscale biomolecular events from micrometre scale regions must be extracted at a considerable distance from where the sensing occurs.

Biosensors are also directly exposed to the intrinsic chemical complexity of biological environments, leading to background signals and cross-reactivity. The challenge of biological complexity can only be addressed by multiple simultaneous biochemical measurements (also known as multiplexing).

At the CNBP we’ve designed our sensing program to explicitly address these issues, with a key focus in the areas of Reproductive Success, Vascular Health and Persistent Pain.

New sensing technologies for physiological monitoring are widely regarded as the next technology frontier, which will allow the community to manage chronic health conditions, as well as maintain well-being, and associated quality of life.

Sensing (the taking of quality and conditional assessments at a molecular level) is also needed in the agricultural, food and manufacturing sectors—particularly as industry looks to maximize its effectiveness in a changing and competitive environment. Sensors monitoring food, its quality, food-borne pathogens or other contaminants is a key area where our research and technology can add significantly to the business value proposition as well as to their bottom line. 

CNBP is identifying major research and technology gaps in all of these areas and is designing its program to fill these needs. Our core platform technologies and their components: nanotechnology with its multifunctional nanoparticles, and synthetic biology, fibre sensing, as well as in-vivo sensors are already making a mark on the fields of biosciences and medical research.

Our point-of care technologies are being translated to end-users and will continue to have impact with a broad societal perspective.

Above - CNBP Researcher and chemist, Dr Michelle Zhang

At the CNBP we operate at the leading edge of biophotonics research with our globally recognised scientists developing next-generation, transformative sensing technologies that are allowing us to push the very frontiers of nano-exploration and measurement.

Our fibre sensors and probes have a vast range of important applications. The hydrogen peroxide and pH probe we are developing will make it possible to take the guesswork out of IVF. Our probes aiming to measure molecular activity in the reproductive tract will help us better understand fertility as well as key events in the process of reproduction.

Our recent technology highlight of cancer margin detection with optical fibres is rapidly heading towards commercialisation.  

Additionally, our widely acclaimed brain sensors are opening up new and exciting research and commercial opportunities. These include a smart needle to make brain surgery safer and a brain temperature probe that will help us understand the neuronal effects of drug abuse. Notably, our smart needle technology has already been successfully used in a pilot trial with 12 patients undergoing neurosurgery at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Western Australia.

Working at the interface of chemistry and physics we are pioneering new and exciting approaches to the detection of proteins, metal ions and other molecular functions. 

Our technology to detect cytokines (proteins that orchestrate the immune response in the body) will lead to next generation cell therapies and outcomes in regenerative medicine.

Our work in sensing zinc and other metal ions will help us better understand the dynamic roles that these molecules have in regulating health and disease in the body.

At the CNBP our challenge is to detect trace molecules—this requires the measurement of extremely weak signals, but our advanced nanotechnology expertise is helping us break through this previously stubborn barrier. Our researchers are developing bespoke nanomaterials, nanodiamonds, superdots and hyperdots to enable this next generation of nano-particle based sensing.

Finally, Raman and spectral fibre sensing approaches, also being developed within the CNBP are versatile and offer broad utility—from sensing in the living body right through to use within industry and manufacturing and food related sectors.

At the CNBP we are on an exciting and transformative research journey—taking sensing and biomolecular measurements to places where they have never been before.

Sensing at the nanoscale via advanced biophotonics technologies and techniques

The Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics links Australia's key nanophotonics groups and builds on Global Collaborations with a focus on doing the science required to advance biology.