Prof Brant Gibson, co-director, CNBP
Prof Brant Gibson is using the special sensing properties of certain nanodiamond particles to develop smart technology dressings for better wound healing. With a diameter approximately 1000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, these particles are capable of monitoring changes in temperature with a resolution down to thousandths of a degree.
In collaboration with Dr Asma Khalid from RMIT, Dr Christina Bursill and Dr Achini Vidanapathirana from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, and Prof Robert McLaughlin from the University of Adelaide, Brant has incorporated these tiny temperature sensors into silk membranes. The resulting nanodiamond-silk materials are being explored in skin wound healing applications as a ‘smart’ dressing to monitor temperature, which is an indicator of infection in a wound.
Brant’s smart dressing technology has the potential to enable early detection of infection and facilitate rapid medical intervention. His diamond-based research is highly multidisciplinary and has applications in other areas where monitoring temperature at the nanoscale can be used to help unlock the mysteries of how the human body functions.
Dr Amanda Abraham
Postdoctoral researcher Dr Amanda Abraham works at the RMIT University node of the CNBP and is an expert in the use of nanoparticles for biomedical applications. The remarkable properties of fluorescent nanodiamonds, which detect changes in temperature, can be used to improve products and devices used in healthcare.
Amanda is working with Prof Brant Gibson’s team at RMIT and Dr Christina Bursill’s team at the CNBP Adelaide node to use fluorescent nanodiamonds in the development of a ‘smart’ wound dressing that can monitor the temperature of a wound. The nanodiamonds are used to detect the small temperature changes that occur when an infection is present and will allow medical professionals to identify infections early, before visible symptoms are evident.
She is also collaborating with Patrick Capon from Prof Andrew Abell’s team at the CNBP Adelaide node to incorporate a pH sensor into the smart wound dressing. Since pH changes can also indicate the presence of an infection, this dual-sensing dressing will enable external monitoring of wound temperature and pH. This will help reduce the usage of antibiotics and prevent the development of chronic wounds.
Patrick Capon has been working with solid binding peptides (small pieces of protein) as a new way to add fluorescent sensors to surfaces to produce new sensing devices. This includes devices that can detect pH, an important indicator of a wound that is not healing correctly and is at risk of becoming chronic.
In collaboration with CNBP postdoctoral researchers Dr Amanda Abraham and Dr Achini Vidanapathirana, Patrick has combined a silk-binding peptide and pH sensor to be 3D printed into the silk wound dressings.
The fluorescence readout from the dressing will facilitate early detection of infections in wounds, without the need to remove the dressing to check the wound underneath. This work will enable better wound management and patient prognoses through earlier detection of wounds that are at risk of becoming chronic.
Patrick is currently expanding his pH sensing work into the embryology space, where pH is an important indicator in oocyte (egg) quality.
Prof Robert McLaughlin
Prof Robert McLaughlin is a medical engineer who develops new ways to scan the body. For several years, his team at the CNBP have been working on techniques to visualise the tiny blood vessels just under the skin. These blood vessels play a critical role in how the body recovers from wounds.
His work began in collaboration with burns surgeon Prof Fiona Wood, from the Fiona Stanley Hospital, as they tried to understand how scars form after burn wounds. They developed new optical techniques to visualise blood vessels as small as 30 microns in diameter – the thickness of a human hair. By monitoring how blood vessels in the burn scar changed over time, they were able to assess the impact of laser treatment on scar formation.
Since then, working with exercise physiologists at the University of Western Australia, led by Prof Daniel Green, Robert’s team have realised this work has much broader implications. Most recently, they have used this technology to understand how the skin blood vessels become diseased in diabetes patients, leading to foot ulcers and other diabetes-related complications.