Imaging brings treatment a step closer for children with genetic heart condition

Researchers have tracked a molecule that targets the heart using imaging techniques supported by NIF, taking them a step closer to preventing a common genetic cardiac condition. 

The researchers are developing the first therapeutic for preventing – and even reversing – hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in those aged 5 to 15 years.  

They have identified a mechanism in which the powerhouse of the cell, called mitochondria, use large amounts of oxygen to enlarge the heart wall in people with HCM. 

In vivo multispectral fluorescence imaging at NIF’s Node at the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis (CMCA) at the University of Western Australia (UWA) tracked a molecule called AID-TAT that decreases oxygen used by the mitochondria and prevents the enlargement.  


UWA NIF Fellow, Ms Diana Patalwala said a fluorescent dye was added to the AID-TAT so it could be tracked to the heart to ensure it reached the correct site for treatment. 

AID-TAT was also tracked to the liver and kidneys so the ‘rate of clearance’ could be studied to confirm its safe removal from the body, she said. 

CMCA provided expertise to the project as part of NIF’s role in underpinning Australian research priorities, including how to handle the in vivo fluorescence imaging equipment and samples to obtain relevant results, and how best to analyse them. 

Wesfarmers, UWA and Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute Chair in Cardiovascular Research, Professor Livia Hool, who is leading the research, said HCM was hereditary so screening at-risk family members would identify people to target for prevention. 

“Prevention is better than cure with HCM,” Professor Hool said. 

“Genetic testing is now much cheaper so it will become more common – and that will help to identify the people who will benefit from HCM prevention strategies. 

“At the moment, people don’t know they have HCM until they develop symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue or going into cardiac arrest. 

“There is presently no treatment that can reverse or prevent HCM.” 

Professor Hool said the research team used the CMCA imaging to build a proof of concept for AID-TAT, to assist in moving towards preclinical trials to demonstrate safety and efficacy. 

A genetic mutation causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in one in 500 people and about one in every 100 of those people will have a sudden cardiac death. 

The research uses AID-TAT to control cardiac metabolic activity, which may help prevent HCM in at-risk people identified as having a genetic mutation. 

Inaugural NIF Scientific Symposium kicks off #NationalScienceWeek

Leading researchers, clinicians and industry attended the inaugural National Imaging Facility (NIF) Scientific Symposium on 12 August.

The event kicked off National Science Week for NIF, highlighting the critical role of collaboration in translating research challenges to benefit industry and keep Australians healthy, with the theme ‘National partnerships for innovation and impact’.

NIF CEO Prof Wojtek Goscinski said the Symposium was an excellent opportunity to highlight ground-breaking work from Australia’s world-class imaging community.

“It was a privilege to host experts from across Australia, including keynote speakers Prof Graeme Jackson, Prof Louise Emmet and Prof Gemma Figtree, whose work is at the leading edge of imaging globally,” Prof Goscinski said.

“I’d also like to extend my thanks to the presenters who delivered an excellent Technology Showcase session, and Health and Medical Translational Challenges session.

“A particular highlight was hearing from our industry partners, including Telix Pharmaceuticals, Clarity Pharmaceuticals, Cochlear and Nyrada, who discussed the way they engage with national imaging research infrastructure.

“NIF is privileged to have a strong network of world-leading expertise at our fingertips and it was an honour to bring some of these people together to present their work and share ideas at the 2022 Symposium,” he said.

Keynote presentations of the Symposium included:

  • ‘The Australian Epilepsy Project’, Prof Graeme Jackson
  • From mouse to Medicare: the PSMA story in Australia’, Prof Louise Emmett
  • Coronary artery imaging to inform the next Frontier of heart attack prevention’, Prof Gemma Figtree

The Technology Showcase session highlighted NIF’s latest capabilities, including tools for processing and interpreting data, and applications of imaging to solve complex problems, including:

  • ‘Ultra-high field magnetic resonance imaging’, Prof Leigh Johnston and Prof Markus Barth
  • ‘Bringing imaging to rural Australia with a national network of low field mobile MR scanners’, Dr Zhaolin Chen
  • ‘Australian Imaging Service: The national platform for trusted data management and analysis’, Dr Ryan Sullivan
  • ‘Magnetic Particle Imaging’, Dr Andre Bongers
  • An insight into MicroCT imaging: recent advances, applications and impact on research and innovation’, Ms Diana Patalwala
  • Preclinical Research: The Crucial Step in Medical Advancements’, Dr Chris Christou

The Health and Medical Translation Challenges session provided an opportunity for attendees to hear from clinicians and researchers about their journey to making translational impact, including:

  • Neuroimaging in clinical trials: Perspectives of a clinician-researcher’, A/Prof Sylvia Gustin
  • The Australasian Radiopharmaceutical Trials network (ARTnet)’, A/Prof Ros Francis

The Industry Discussion Panel opened up conversation on how imaging accelerates and underpins innovation and future opportunities, with speakers:

  • Dr David Cade, Chief Executive Officer, Telix Pharmaceuticals Asia Pacific
  • Dr Matt Harris, Chief Scientific Officer, Clarity Pharmaceuticals
  • Dr Zachary Smith, Director, Algorithms and Applications, Cochlear
  • Dr Jasneet Parmar, Neuroscience Researcher, Nyrada Inc

Members of the NIF network recognised internationally as in-person conferences return

[Pictured: UNSW-NeuRA Facility Fellow, Dr Michael Green presented a study titled “Effect of Compressed SENSE on Freesurfer parcellation precision” which was a collaboration between NeuRA researchers, Philips Australia and New Zealand, and UNSW.]

In-person events have returned – and over the last few months, leading edge experts from the NIF network have attended, presented, and taken the opportunity to collaborate at conferences like ANZSNM and ISMRM.

We’re proud to acknowledge the members of the NIF network who have presented their globally significant work to the greater imaging communities.

We congratulate University of Sydney-ANSTO Node Co-Director, Prof Fernando Calamante as President of ISMRM on the success of the 2022 31st Annual Meeting hosted in London, UK in May.

We also recognise the incredible achievement of Dr Shawna Farquharson as recipient of the ISMRT 2022 Distinguished Service Award at the same event.

Back in Australia, NIF kicked off events with a Molecular imaging and Radiopharmaceuticals Capability Showcase at ANZSNM. We were honoured to invite world-class speakers from within our network, Prof Steven Meikle, A/Prof Roslyn Francis, Prof Gary Egan, Prof Kristofer Thurecht and Dr John Bennett to present during the NIF session.

We look forward to seeing more of our network at upcoming events – stay tuned for the NIF Scientific Symposium next month in Sydney. Save the date for Friday 12 August.


Here are some more highlights from the NIF network attending events so far this year:

Markus Barth

QLD Node Director

ISMRM

 

Why did you attend? Many reasons: present group results; moderator of sessions; member of study groups and initiatives

 

What was the highlight of the event for you? Catching up with fellow researchers

 

What would you say to someone considering attending next meeting? Best check the hybrid setup, i.e. what is available in person and what is available online

Michael Green

NeuRA Facility Fellow

ISMRM

Why did you attend? Primarily it was a great way to re-connect with colleagues and share ideas in an old-fashioned, non-Zoom type of way. I presented a study titled “Effect of Compressed SENSE on Freesurfer parcellation precision” which was a collaboration between NeuRA researchers, Philips Australia and New Zealand, and UNSW. The study assessed the reliability of an MRI acceleration techniques designed to speed up the time it takes to acquire images. We wanted to provide a guideline for MR researchers wanting to reduce scan time while acquiring high quality data.

 

What was the highlight of the event for you? The face-to-face aspect of a conference was a real highlight. It was a nice compliment and surprise to see Philips also present data from our study to a global audience as validation for their acceleration techniques employed on their MRI machines. I also received some interesting feedback regarding the study analysis which I may implement before publishing the manuscript.

 

What would you say to someone considering attending next meeting? Study the conference schedule well before attending then pick and choose which seminars you’d like to attend. Then talk to as many people as possible. In person!

Joseph Ioppolo

UWA Facility Fellow

ANZSNM

Why did you attend? This is a good meeting to attend to connect with the other radiochemists in Australia. Due to COVID I had not had a chance to do this in a long while. I was also very keen to see the Q-TRaCE labs at Royal Brisbane, as we have a good working relationship between them and us at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. I was able to let people know I had moved across to the NIF Node at UWA and was able to speak about our new lab and facilities being built now in Perth during my talk on the Saturday

What was the highlight of the event for you? While ANZSNM was a great chance to hear some great talks and connect with a lot of people, it was also exciting to tour the labs at Q-TRaCE and the Centre for Advanced Imaging at UQ, where we also had our national Cyclotron User Group meeting.

What would you say to someone considering attending next meeting? There are just not that many radiochemists in Australia, and the ANZSNM (along with the EPSM) is a great opportunity to see meet each other in person and see how the radiopharmaceuticals we make are being used to image and treat disease around the country.

 

Sjoerd Vos

UWA Facility Fellow

ISMRM

 

Why did you attend? I presented a project shared between my current role as NIF fellow and my previous job in London.

 

What was the highlight of the event for you? My highlight was discussing potential new collaborations within Australia and internationally.

 

What would you say to someone considering attending next meeting? I think this is also a key reason to go to these conferences – to help explore new collaborations to benefit our imaging centres and community.

Shenjun Zhong

Monash Informatics Fellow

ISMRM (Virtual)

Why did you attend? My abstract was accepted as an online power pitch presentation in the ISMRM 2022 conference. And I virtually co-chaired one of the gather.town sessions in the theme of imaging processing and analysis.

What was the highlight of the event for you? The main highlight was the talk provided by one of the famous AI researchers, Yann LeCun, and his topic was ‘Future AI research in medical imaging‘. The key take-home message is the shifting from supervised to self-supervised learning framework in general AI and medical imaging research.

NIF Molecular Imaging and Radiochemistry Showcase to be presented at ANZSNM

National Imaging Facility enables access to imaging capabilities across the country and will present a Molecular Imaging and Radiochemistry Showcase at ANZSNM 2022, featuring presentations from a range of research leaders from Australia’s advanced imaging network.

See the full ANZSNM program here.

Register to attend ANZSNM 2022.

National Imaging Facility: Molecular Imaging and Radiochemistry Showcase
Saturday 14 May 2022, 3:15pm – 4:15pm
Session Chair: Prof Wojtek Goscinski, CEO National Imaging Facility

TimeSpeakerTopic
3:15 – 3:20Professor Wojtek Goscinski

Chief Executive Officer
National Imaging Facility

Introduction to NIF Molecular Imaging and
Radiochemistry Showcase

3:20 – 3:30Professor Steven Meikle

Head of the Imaging Physics Laboratory, Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney

Total Body PET
3:30 – 3:40Associate Professor Roslyn Francis

Head of Department of Nuclear Medicine and WA PET Service, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, University of Western Australia

Radiochemistry activities in Western Australia
3:40 – 3:50Professor Gary Egan

Professor and Foundation Director, Monash Biomedical Imaging

Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function

Australian Precision Medicine Enterprise
3:50 – 4:00Prof Kristofer Thurecht

Acting Deputy Director (Research Technologies) and Group Leader – Principal Research Fellow,

Centre for Advanced Imaging, University of Queensland

Affiliate Principal Research Fellow and Group Leader,

Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

Alpha therapies and activities
4:00 – 4:10Dr John Bennett

Research Infrastructure Platform Leader – Biosciences,
ANSTO

ANSTO’s new NIF Alpha Radioisotopes and
Radiopharmaceuticals Facility

NIF’s newest capability: Medical industry, manufacturers, and museums set to benefit from WA’s first high-power research-dedicated CT scanner

National Imaging Facility’s (NIF) University of Western Australia (UWA) node located at the Centre for Microscopy Characterisation and Analysis (CMCA) will grow its capacity with the arrival of a new computed tomography (CT) scanner to expand capabilities for industry, manufacturing and museums who require imaging of large samples.

The Nikon XT H 225 ST will increase NIF’s scope to cater for specimens that require a large field of view, including medical implants, additive manufacturing and industrial components, and environmental or historical artefacts.


Research applications of the new CT scanner will extend from medical material testing, industrial material including castings, turbine blades, plastics, packaging, dispensers, to precious palaeontology and archaeology articles.

Diana Patalwala, NIF’s Facility Fellow at UWA’s CMCA said the CT will enable engagement with the biomedical, agriculture, environmental, renewable resource, advanced manufacturing, electronics and defence industries.

“Our new CT capabilities will have increased applications in pre-clinical and clinical research involving medical prosthesis, dental implants, critical assemblies of medical devices and drug delivery systems,” she said.

“It is vital for components such as patient-specific medical implants manufactured through additive manufacturing technologies to be of outstanding quality, and an X-Ray CT can play an important role in this process from start to end.”

Other medical applications include verifying the dimensions of drug delivery systems’ inhaler chambers or dispenser mechanisms, syringes, stents, pacemakers and more.

“Industry will greatly benefit from the Nikon XT H 225 ST as it is the only CT technology of its kind to provide a 225kV (450W) rotating target X-ray source, this means we can image larger and denser samples with increased accuracy than previously possible,” Ms Patalwala said.  

“This makes it ideal for industry users involved in materials testing, inspection and quality control applications.

“This CT scanner would also be ideal for examining archaeological samples, museum specimens and fossils as well, enabling us to get the detailed inside picture without destroying these precious artefacts!” Ms Patalwala said.


With an X-ray source as powerful as 225kV/450W, it is the only high-power research-dedicated CT system in WA.

The unique and versatile scanner can examine specimens ranging in size from small rock cores, which are important for minimising the risk associated with the planned drilling operations in mining and increase the probability of meeting the target yield, to large industrial manufacturing components, such as casting moulds parts, batteries, fuel cells and electronic circuits.

The Nikon XT H 225 ST has an impressive maximum field of view (35cm x 35cm x 35cm), a sample height that can accommodate up to 65cm and a sample weight of 50kg – which will allow for greater capacity in imaging larger samples.


Its large field-of-view, makes it capable of CT scanning the internal tomography of an object non-destructively

The CT uses multiple axial scans to generate cross-sectional information or three-dimensional reconstructions. The X-ray CT has the typical mechanism for taking ‘slices’ which are then digitally reconstructed into 3D volumes.

The Nikon CT has an extremely high-powered X-ray source (450W) for penetrating geological, marine and industrial objects as well as the capability of producing lower energy X-rays (20W) for bio-medical applications.

With resolutions down to the 10um range, academia and industry will have access to 2D cross-sectional slices and 3D volume rendered models, as well as access to advanced quantitative analysis software packages capable of characterising material properties involving cracks, pores, and fibres – just to name a few.


The new Nikon XT H 225 ST CT scanner was delivered at the end of March, with installation commencing from April, and a view to opening to users in May.

This instrument has been funded by National Imaging Facility, enabled by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, with the Government of Western Australia and supporters of the Western Australia National Imaging Facility.

For further information about the instrument, contact NIF Facility Fellow, Diana Patalwala diana.patalwala@uwa.edu.au.

#WorldHealthDay: Imaging unlocking research to keep people healthy

#WorldHealthDay: As Australia’s advanced imaging network, we’re focused on addressing national science and research priorities to help keep people healthy. Our expertise, equipment and services are critical to Australia’s ability to translate health discoveries, undertake clinical trials and commercialise medical products.

The importance of protecting Australians from health threats is critical, as is Australia’s strong medical research capability and reputation for quality and standards.

The National Imaging Facility is unlocking solutions to the world’s biggest imaging challenges across commercial, clinical and research fields. We have helped Australians innovate in fields such as bioengineering, clinical science, biology, medical technology, pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical therapies.

Thousands of scientists, doctors, and professionals across hundreds of Australian institutions, companies and research organisations use our work to help answer their medical research questions. We also work with engaged volunteers and patients who make a valuable contribution to health and discovery by being part of research.

We’ve included some examples of the medical projects we’re proud to have partnered with to keep people healthy below:

Dr Ciara Duffy from Western Australia’s Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research imaging the investigation of honeybee venom to treat breast cancer cells at the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis in collaboration with Microscopy Australia

Associate Professor David Parsons and Dr Martin Donnelly performing preclinical testing of a ground-breaking and simple to use ‘field ventilator’ that can be locally produced at a low cost from easily acquired parts at SAHMRI, in collaboration with 4DMedical, and the University of Adelaide

Supporting Australian trials of Biogen’s Aducanumab (Aduhelm), the first disease modifying therapy for Alzheimer’s disease approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the University of Melbourne, Herston Imaging Research Facility, the Hunter Medical Research Institute, Australian Imaging Biomarkers and Lifestyle Study of Ageing at The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and Austin Health

#WomenInScience: A conversation with Diana Patalwala

#WomenInScience: A conversation with Diana Patalwala, Research Officer, Preclinical and Materials Imaging and National Imaging Facility Fellow at the Centre for Microscopy Characterisation and Analysis, University of Western Australia  

11 February is the United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science, highlighting the importance of full and equal access and participation. 

We’re proud to create powerful collaborations across the research and innovation sector, building teams with world-class expertise, who manage our state-of-the-art equipment, and partner with experts in other fields.  

Our mission is to make cutting-edge imaging capabilities accessible to Australian researchers, and we envision a society that provides equal opportunity for people of all genders to learn, work and engage in science. 

As we look to the future of research, it’s clear Australia’s success depends on us developing and encouraging the next generation of scientists, problem solvers and leaders – regardless of their gender, background or any other factor. 

Today we highlight the exceptional work of women leading the way in science and thank them for their work to deliver the impacts of life-changing research. 


Diana Patalwala has worked with the National Imaging Facility (NIF) as a Facility Fellow at the University of Western Australia (UWA) for the best part of a decade, dedicating her time to enabling research translation to real-world benefits.  

The breadth of impact that advanced imaging techniques has on research outcomes is what drives her to come to work every day. 

“We have researchers working on projects spanning in scope from investigating the anti-tumour effects of honeybee venom to treat breast cancer, the most common cancer in women worldwide, all the way to studying the acclimatisation of reef-building corals to consecutive heatwaves, contributing to the understanding of how different coral species are responding to climate change,” she says. 

“This sort of research is contributing to society, it’s giving back, it’s impactful!” 

Image: Coral stress band imaging, as part of Diana’s work assisting researchers with the study of acclimatisation of reef-building corals

Diana oversees the operations and development of research projects, providing user training and support at the Centre for Microscopy Characterisation and Analysis (CMCA) Bio-Imaging Facility (BIF), which supports interdisciplinary and multimodal imaging of small animals and materials using X-ray CT, High Frequency Ultrasounds and Photoacoustic Imaging, Fluorescence Multispectral and Bioluminescence Imaging.  

Her valuable skills and experience in imaging methodologies enable her to assist researchers with data collection, reconstruction, analysis and visualisation. 

When asked what led her to this career path, Diana says her post-graduate studies piqued her interest – but not in the way you might expect. 

“My postgrad degree in Medical Biotechnology had a few units which involved data analysis from preclinical imaging instruments,” she explains. 

“Although we were taught the theoretical principles on which these pre-clinical instruments worked, we were never allowed to operate them ourselves, which was disappointing because the science behind the instruments was really fascinating to me!” 

“Seeing my professors at the university working with these instruments motivated me to envision my career in a pre-clinical imaging facility,” she says. 

Now, Diana’s work allows her to have a hands-on role in imaging, enabling potentially life-changing research in medical biotechnology. 

Before new medical treatments and drugs reach the clinical trial phase (when research studies are performed on people for evaluation), they undergo pre-clinical testing and development. 

Diana says this is where pre-clinical imaging comes into the picture to provide invaluable data.  

“High resolution and high throughput pre-clinical imaging equipment such as pre-clinical CT scanners, high frequency ultrasounds, photoacoustics, Invivo bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging techniques better facilitate the development of these treatments and drugs during their pre-clinical phase,” she says. 

“As a NIF Facility Fellow, I operate and train researchers to use these instruments in a way in which we can get the maximum output from them and analyse the data they generate.” 

Talking to Diana, it is clear she is extremely passionate about her job and how her work can benefit the research community.  

At the end of last year, she presented her work on In vivo MicroCT and In vivo Fluorescence Imaging to an international audience at NIF’s webinar series in partnership with Global BioImaging, which for most people would be a career highlight – but for Diana, it’s quite a competitive ranking. 

“EVERYDAY is a career highlight!” she says. 

“Every day, researchers come to us with questions that have never been answered before, and we at NIF help them design experiments that give them access to world-class, cutting-edge pre-clinical and clinical imaging technologies.” 

“We provide them a better insight into their research needs, and ultimately aim to generate answers to some of the biggest challenges facing society!” 

When asked what advice she would give to someone who is considering working with a NIF capability, Diana says collaboration is at the heart of her work. 

“Come and have a chat with us – we are here for you!” 

“No one knows our instruments better than us – so talk to us before you design your experiments. We can put these instruments to use in ways you might not have thought of, and we will help you get the maximum output from them.” she says. 

For more information on NIF’s UWA Node, or to chat about how NIF’s capabilities could be used in your research project, contact Diana here. 

#ImagingTheFuture Week: Unlocking solutions to major health challenges

#ImagingTheFuture Week: Unlocking solutions to major health challenges


Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s (CZI) Imaging the Future Week puts a spotlight on the significance of imaging science in biomedicine, and the importance of building a vibrant imaging community across the world to tackle these challenges at scale.

Imaging science and the highly skilled researchers behind it are vital to addressing global health challenges, and driving innovation in disease management, prevention, and cure.

The National Imaging Facility (NIF) invests in state-of-the-art equipment and partners with world-class experts to process and interpret data and apply imaging to solve challenging health problems.

CEO Prof Wojtek Goscinski said he was proud of the NIF’s partnerships which enable the translation of discoveries through to real world applications to improve the health of the population.

“Advanced imaging techniques make it possible to deepen our understanding of health and disease in the human body through visualisation,” Prof Goscinski said.

“Imaging already plays a critical role in healthcare, and the acceleration of its advancements in biomedicine are positioning us, and our colleagues world-wide to continue this work well into the future.”

“We are supportive of the efforts of CZI and I’m excited for NIF to work alongside them and our other international imaging colleagues, building a cutting-edge imaging community at the forefront of global imaging research,” Prof Goscinski said.

You can find out more about Imaging the Future Week here.

Keep scrolling to check out some of the impressive imaging work from a few of the Australian National Imaging Facility’s Nodes.

Time-of-flight angiography of the human brain using 7 Tesla MRI – courtesy of the Centre for Advanced Imaging, University of Queensland

Human Tooth CT scan – courtesy of Diana Patalwala, University of Western Australia

Angiogram scanned on the Siemens 3T Skyra magnet – courtesy of the Large Animal Research and Imaging Facility, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute

Tractography template image of a sham rat – courtesy of David Wright, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

Cancer cells killed by honeybee venom

Breast cancer, the most common cancer in women worldwide, may one day be treated using the venom of the European honeybee.

Dr Ciara Duffy from Western Australia’s Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research has found that venom from honeybees can rapidly kill aggressive and hard-to-treat breast cancer cells. NCRIS-enabled facilities at the Centre for Microscopy, Characterization and Analysis (CMCA), UWA, were integral to the research, published recently in the journal Nature Precision Oncology.

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Understanding Feto-Placental Vasculature

Proper vascular development of the human placenta is crucial for meeting the metabolic needs of the developing fetus during pregnancy. Maternal environmental stressors such as malnutrition disrupt the elaboration of the feto-placental vasculature that, in turn, impacts on placental function and results in reduced fetal growth. The ramifications of this are not only on short-term foetal health but also on long-term health outcomes. Indeed, distortion in placental shape and size strongly associate with later adult health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and cancer.

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