Aptamers: developing a novel technology for hormone measurement

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Linda Fothergill linda.fothergill@unimelb.edu.au
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof John Furness j.furness@unimelb.edu.au

Summary The healthy gut communicates with the brain and lives in harmony with the many bacteria it contains. Disorders of gut health lead to diabetes and metabolic disease, inadequate nutrition, pain, nausea, poor digestion, liver disease, and digestive diseases. The digestive Physiology and Nutrition Laboratory is working to develop new approaches to treating bowel diseases through neuromodulation, an exciting new approach in which nerves are stimulated to treat disordered function, through drug development and by unravelling the basic mechanisms essential for digestive health. We are also working to understand the reasons why gastrointestinal functions become disordered when there are pathologies of the central nervous system, such as in Parkinson’s Disease.

Project Details

Currently, hormone measurements are made by drawing a blood sample, that is then placed in a detection device, or is sent to a pathology laboratory for analysis.  Sending samples to a laboratory means that the result is not known until after the patient has left the clinic, with delays usually being several days.  


We intend to develop an entirely new technology, which is called aptamer technology.  An aptamer is a chemical that generates an electrical or optical signal when it binds to a hormone.  Aptamers can record hormone release in real-time.   The electrical or optical signal is transmitted to a smart device and wirelessly communicated to a phone or computer.  


We will begin by applying this new technology to the measurement of the stomach hormones, serotonin and ghrelin.  In future it will be possible to apply the technology to the measurement of other hormones.

Research Opportunities

PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

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