Success stories and exciting news

Welcome to this page where we would like to share with you the outcome of research projects that have used CMM capabilities and resources in one or another. We try to highlight stories along The University of Queensland's (UQ) strategical areas from science and sustainability to health and humanities, in the hope that by sharing these stories others might be inspired to get in contact with us.

UQ Impact Areas:

  • Leading healthy lives
  • Building better bioeconomies
  • Achieving resilient environments and livelihoods
  • Designing technology for tomorrow
  • Transforming societies

CMM’s infrastructure enables a wide range of researchers and companies to generate new insights in their research and development area eg. Environment, Agriculture, Food, Health, Energy, Defence, Engineering, Infrastructure, Education (Inspire, MyScope) and professional learning to name a few.

Furthermore we want to share smaller success stories around Microscopy, Imaging and Spectroscopy, all around structure research and determination of our physical reality of existence of matter from the micro-meter to the sub nano-meter atomic scale. Motto: “How do you know unless you see/look”.

Please come and find out more, be inspired and learn how UQ researchers and external clients from CMM create change. (See also UQ's research impact webpage).

UQ researchers solve a 50-year-old enzyme mystery

The CMM was recently involved in a study published in the Journal Nature and led by UQ’s Professor Luke Guddat.

This study combined cutting-edge techniques such as cryo-electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography to reveal the complete three-dimensional structure of acetohydroxyacid synthase, an enzyme involved in the early stages of the biosynthesis of three essential amino acids – leucine, valine and isoleucine and a major target for herbicides and anti-tuberculosis treatments.

An additional important technique used in this study has involved the newly installed Refeyn oneMP mass-photometer in our QBP facility to demonstrate the change of the oligomeric state of the enzyme that is triggered by the presence of ATP.

This study paves the way for UQ researchers to use mass-photometry in their research.

The research paper can be accessed on the Nature website (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2514-3).

(Read full article).

Common drug could improve cancer treatments

Colour-enhanced TEM image of a killer cell (red) attaching to a cancer cell (pink).

The anti-nausea and anti-psychotic drug, prochlorperazine (Stemetil), could be repurposed to make antibody treatment of tumours more effective. The research team from the Universities of Queensland, Sydney and Newcastle, and the Princess Alexandra Hospital is led by A/Prof. Fiona Simpson.

Antibodies designed to attack cancers stick to particular proteins on the surface of the tumour cells and cause these cells to die. This occurs via a process called natural killer cell-mediated antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). The more protein molecules there are on the surface of the cell the more places there are for the antibodies to stick, making the treatment more effective.

These protein molecules normally carry signals from the outside of the cell to the inside. Prochlorperazine was found to temporarily block the movement of these proteins into the cells leaving more on the surface where they can stick to the antibodies resulting in increased cell death. By combining antibodies and prochlorperazine, the researchers have also shown that the current variations in treatment effectiveness can be overcome.

(Read full article).

Solar technology breakthrough at UQ

Professor Lianzhou Wang and his team.

A research team led by Professor Lianzhou Wang has set a world record for the conversion of solar energy to electricity via the use of nanoparticles called ‘quantum dots’.

When exposed to solar energy these dots pass electrons between one another generating an electrical current.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the US recognised the world record of 16.6% efficiency – the previous record in quantum dot solar cell category was 13.4%.

“This new generation of quantum dots is compatible with more affordable and large-scale printable technologies. The near 25% improvement in efficiency we have achieved over the previous world record is important. It is effectively the difference between quantum dot solar cell technology being an exciting ‘prospect’ and being commercially viable,” Professor Wang said. 

(Read full article).

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