UniSA’s IDEAL research partnership underpins advanced diagnostics 

         Leaders at the new IDEAL research hub cutting the ribbon to launch the centre

A vital new partnership which will see the University of South Australia, the University of Technology Sydney and key industry partners join forces to develop advanced diagnostic technologies to fight some of our most challenging diseases, is being launched in Sydney today.

The Integrated Device for End-User Analysis at Low Levels research hub (IDEAL), which has been supported by the Australian Research Council, will includes expert researchers in analytical chemistry, biosciences, nanoscience, laser physics and photonics, all dedicated to the development of easy-to-use devices for a range of health applications – from testing for drugs, right through to detecting cancers or toxins.

Director of UniSA’s Future Industries Institute, and deputy Director of the new research hub, Professor Emily Hilder says IDEAL has the potential to deliver world-beating technologies for a global market.

“What is fantastic about this new research hub is that it is harnessing the skills of some of the very best researchers in Australia, across a range of disciplines in science and engineering to deliver advanced diagnostic solutions for a wide range of uses,” Prof Hilder says.

“It proves the value of national partnerships between universities, industry and end-users in delivering new technologies and new business opportunities that Australia can take to the world.”

UTS Physicist and Director of IDEAL Professor Dayong Jin, says he is looking forward to the hub  becoming a leader in transforming scientific research into industry-inspired technology developments that will benefit people everywhere.

“Already we have developed the technology to find a single cell and trace amount of a disease marker in a sample of blood or in a urine specimen,” Prof Jin says.

“Our innovative team of researchers, experts in physics, engineering and biology, are working on the next steps - tailoring our platform technologies, integrating them and aligning them with our industry partners’ needs.

“If an over-the-counter testing kit can confirm pregnancy in a matter of moments, why not do the same with cancer, or with performance-enhancing drugs, or a toxin like botulism? That’s our goal – to create the next generation of medical tests that are simple and easy to use.”

IDEAL industry partner Dr Brad Walsh, who is chief executive of immuno-oncology company Minomic, said his company’s involvement with the IDEAL research hub is an example of the powerful impact that can be achieved when industry and science join forces.

Minomic’s MiCheck device to screen for prostate cancer, which is undergoing clinical trials, will be further enhanced for sensitivity, selectivity and speed through a long-standing collaboration involving Dr Walsh, Professor Jin and UniSA Vice Chancellor: Research Professor Tanya Monro.

In 2015, the team won a Eureka Prize for their work creating nanocrystals to illuminate hidden diseased cells.

Current partnered projects at IDEAL include:

  • Alcolizer – the development of a fast and inexpensive test that can detect illicit drugs in the bloodstream at a minuscule level
  • Minomic – the development of a non-invasive and accurate microfluidics tool to detect prostate cancer, addressing the problem of false positives that occur with existing testing
  • PregTech – the development of a biosensor to detect ovulation in dairy cows

Media contact: Michèle Nardelli mobile 0418 823 673 email michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au