New Zealand, August 07, 2005 ---Two University
of Canterbury PhD students carrying out research
with the MacDiarmid
Institute of Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology have
been short-listed in an international nanotechnology
business plan competition.
James Muys and David Melville will head to Padua,
Italy, in November to present their business idea
to the judging panel of the 2005 Nanochallenge,
aiming to win the €300,000 (NZ $535,000) start-up
The two students lead a team which includes their supervisors Associate Professor
Richard Blaikie and Dr Maan Alkaisi, who act in an advisory capacity. They
are one of 20 teams whose business idea earned them selection for the final,
out of 70 entries from around the world. They will also be the only team from
Australasia vying for the inaugural prize.
Their idea involves developing a nanotechnology technique, called bio Imprint,
which may revolutionise the way in which biomedical and pharmaceutical industries
detect diseases, diagnose cancer or test drugs.
The bio Imprint is a both a device and a process for replicating cell
topography for analysis using high-resolution imaging tools such as the Atomic
Force Microscope (AFM).
The business plan idea developed from James' PhD research, which is built around
using non-optical devices such as the (AFM) to take extremely high resolution
images of cells.
“Optics is limited by the wave-length of light so a lot of cell data is missed
using conventional microscopy,” says James. “We come in with the atomic force
microscope and can image on a nanometre scale, providing a better resolution
of the cell structure from which you can, for example, see the mutations that
are causing cancer or be able to diagnose other diseases to a more accurate level.”
While the nano-instruments like the AFM and scanning electron microscope have
been used to analyse biological samples for decades, James says they are extremely
“One of the main reasons why industry is not using these tools as a diagnostic
technique is because there has been no reliable technique that facilitates their
integration with biological materials.
“This is where bio Imprint comes in – it is a process for transferring
the complete topographic resolution of the cell structure into a dedicated device
designed for high resolution imaging of the cell structure down to the nanometre.”
James says the unique thing about the team's product is that it can be produced
at low-cost and is very rapidly developed.
“A lot of nanotech products are built on promises that need years of development
and cost millions of dollars. This device has already been proven and is easy
to use and integrate with existing technology, which is a big advantage.”
The Nanochallenge is an international business plan competition organised by
Veneto Nanotech. The competition aims to uncover breakthrough nanotechnology
applications and attract the best entrepreneurial talents, in order to create
an active environment enhancing the nanotechnology innovation process.
University of Canterbury
Tel: +64 3 364 2072
Fax: +64 3 364 2679
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