Tiny treatment, huge effect
A fascination with nanotechnology may help those with cystic fibrosis.
by Cherese Sonkkila
Melanie Fuller is using nanotechnology to help cure disease. In her nanotechnology PhD at the Flinders University Centre for NanoScale Science and Technology she is working to improve a potential treatment for cystic fibrosis, a chronic genetic disorder that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system.
There is no cure for this disease, but the Adelaide Cystic Fibrosis Research Group are working on an aerosol that can protect the lungs. The problem is, as the liquid treatment is aerosolised, it becomes damaged and ineffective.
But through her nanotechnology PhD, Melanie is developing an innovative technique to protect the aerosol. She is using gold nanoparticles that electrostatically attach to the outside of the treatment and prevent it from breaking down. She is hoping to use this approach on other aerosol-based treatments for disease and infection.
From a nanotechnology PhD to a biomedical career
And Melanie’s hard work paid off when she was presented with a Postgraduate Research Award from the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE) in 2016.
“I was very honoured to receive it,” she says. “Especially because it allows me to have more opportunities to use research facilities that I don’t normally get to use, such as the Australian Synchrotron and the neutron scattering facilities at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.”
These facilities allow her to better see the shapes and sizes of the tiny nanoparticles used in her research.
The futuristic quality of science at the nanoscale has always fascinated Melanie. She studied a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in nanotechnology at Flinders University before starting a PhD and is looking forward to a bright career in research.
“I’d really like to continue on to a post- doctorate in biomedical nanotechnology, so that I can continue to work on helping people,” she says.
Melanie’s path to a nanotechnology PhD
2011–2014 Bachelor of Science (Nanotechnology), Flinders University
2015 Honours (Nanotechnology), Flinders University
2016–present PhD candidate (Nanotechnology), Flinders University