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Rapid Diagnostic Nano-Devices Advance Health

A new $1.25 million research facility will support the development of cheap, ultra-precise and easy-to-use nano-devices for the rapid diagnosis and detection of health hazards.

The Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility at RMIT University will be established with the support of a $500,000 Ian Potter Foundation 50th Anniversary Commemorative Grant, announced today.
Research projects supported by the new facility include a nano-device that cuts diagnosis time of meningococcal from hours to minutes and an inexpensive nano-tool for diagnosing malaria in developing countries, that can give almost instant results and requires no medical training to use.

Associate Professor Vipul Bansal, Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility Director, said improving the accuracy, sensitivity and speed of diagnostic tools was crucial to effective health care.

"Speed is critical - the quicker we can diagnose, the quicker we can ensure a patient receives the right treatment," he said.

"The point-of-care nano-devices we're developing are not only inexpensive and simple to use, but also extremely sensitive, so they give an accurate diagnosis almost instantly.

"This new facility will enable the development of nano-devices for a wide range of diseases and health hazards.

"Importantly, it will also help us advance our research through the establishment of international collaborations that can maximise the global impact of these life-saving, leading-edge technologies."

The new facility will be supported by a $750,000 co-contribution from RMIT. Other research projects already in development include a prototype tool to test drinking water for the Cryptosporidium parasite, which cuts the detection time from five days to five minutes, super-sensitive nano-sensors for the food and dairy industries, and devices for early-stage diagnosis of cancer and cardio-vascular diseases.

Professor Calum Drummond, RMIT Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, said the new facility would enable the University to build on an emerging research strength.

"The Ian Potter Foundation's visionary support of this facility through its largest ever grant to RMIT will enable our researchers to develop smart technologies that have the potential to radically change health care diagnostics," he said.

"The Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility is set to become the nation's nanobiosensing hub, attracting top research collaborators from around the world.

"This project demonstrates the pivotal role of philanthropy in enabling outstanding and innovative research, and we are grateful for the Ian Potter Foundation's generous support."

The development of new nano-biosensing and diagnostic platforms using cross-disciplinary materials engineering approaches is one of RMIT's priority research areas for smart technologies.

Researchers at RMIT have been granted international and provisional patents for their novel nano-diagnostic platform, which is based on Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS).
The user-friendly platform is inexpensive to produce and is readily applied to a broad range of biosensing challenges, enabling researchers to develop targeted nano-devices for personal, medical and industrial use.

The Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility will sit alongside the world-class infrastructure at RMIT's $30 million MicroNano Research Facility, which is due to open in August.

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