The annual Graeme Clark Oration lecture series celebrates advances within the health and medical research that will impact people’s lives; showcasing world leaders in health-related research and facilitating discussions where different branches of science come together. The theme for this years tenth anniversary of this event was no exception, combining materials science with biology and medicine.
The guest for this year, Dr Paula Hammond, is a world leader in nanotechnology, specialising in developing nanotechnology innovations in the medical field. One technique that she is an expert in is ‘Layer-by-Layer’ nanotechnology. As Dr Hammond explained in her lecture, ‘Layer-by-Layer’ involves a simple scientific concept, positive and negatives attract each other, applied on not so simple scales. In this technology, alternating positively and negatively charged layers of medicines or other substances can be designed to release varying medications at different times and rates; and in some cases, designed to target specific regions or cells in the body such as cancer cells. After discussing a few analogies and explanations of the basis of her research, Dr Paula Hammond discussed what her team at MIT has been testing and designing for a few example treatments.
Results from the current research Dr Hammonds team is conducting seemed fantastic and displayed the sheer capability and potential of medical advancement if nanotechnology is embraced and further developed. Such feats included accelerated and complete bone regeneration of injuries to the skull without defects or infection; as well as targeted cancer cell treatments that allow chemotherapy to be used more effectively.
While the initial results have been obtained through lab testing on rats up until this point, the results show a lot of potential for future work in fighting and healing medical problems that we are not currently equipped to treat effectively. The mood of the room was very excited at the end of the night and we look forward to seeing where this research advances to in the future.
written by Nathan Kreyts