Science Theme 4: Discover
Theme Leader: Professor Nicolle Packer
Discovering which relevant molecules to target.
The Discovery Theme bridges the physics, chemistry and biology aspects of the Centre by not only discovering relevant molecular targets that are useful to detect to answer our biological questions but also to enable the probes to detect these targets, and importantly, to measure the effects of putting these probes into the biological systems.
It is one thing to have high sensitivity, super resolution detection instruments and another to make these work in the biological applications that we have identified as being of human interest to understand.
We will use state-of-art technologies to discover new, and further develop known, molecules that alter in response to cellular perturbations such as pain transmission, fertilization and development, and arterial plaque formation. The molecules will be the targets of purpose-built tools to measure the molecular changes that occur in these systems. Platforms will be developed that bioconjugate the probes developed in the Centre to enable the sensitive detection of such molecular targets as RNA, protein and glycan at the in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo cellular level. These probes will be trialled in test tubes and under microscopes, in fixed tissue and live cells, but our ultimate aim will be to allow simultaneous measurement of molecular changes in vivo, in real time, at a single location in the body. On the other hand, the use of these types of nanophotonic platforms applied to biological systems will also be monitored for any effects they may have on the cells and tissues, both for understanding the measurements as well as for the safety of future in vivo applications.
These outcomes will be achieved by working together with the physicists that develop the photonic probes, the chemists that modify the surfaces of the probes and conjugate the biomolecules to them and the biologists who understand the cellular mechanisms.
- use advanced molecular analysis to monitor changes in/around cells
- quantify newly discovered and existing target molecules by –omics technologies
- attach a variety of specific detector molecules to a range of nanophotonic platforms
- visualise and measure changes at the molecular level in cells to answer the biological questions posed