8 June 2012

An influential Chinese delegation visited The University of Queensland (UQ) today to be briefed on research into needle-free vaccine delivery technology and new energy storage and conversion opportunities.

His Excellency Mr Wang Yang, a Member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Party Secretary of CPC Guangdong Committee led the UQ visit.

Mr Wang and his delegation visited UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

The delegation included high-level officials from Guangdong Province, representatives from the Chinese Embassy in Australia and Brisbane Consulate, Federal and State Government representatives, and members of the Chinese media.

Mr Wang is a guest of the Australian Government.

His visit provided an exceptional opportunity to showcase the University’s capability for cutting-edge research, attracting international investment and move towards commercialization.

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Debbie Terry, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Max Lu, and AIBN Director Professor Peter Gray and staff welcomed the Chinese visitors.

The visitors were shown around Professor Lu’s labs and learned about the research into new energy storage and conversion opportunities.

Professor Lu’s research group develops functional nanomaterials for high-density supercapacitors and batteries; and efficient catalysts and processes for renewable energy.

Membranes being developed in the research group are showing potential for clean energy production and CO2 separation.

“The research in the labs has great potential to lead to economically viable alternative energy sources and underpin renewable energy industries,” Professor Lu said.

During a tour of Professor Kendall’s lab, Dr Simon Corrie briefed the visitors on delivery device the Nanopatch, which has thousands of small projections designed to deliver vaccine to abundant immune cells in the skin.

This differs from the traditional needle and syringe, which hits the muscle where there are few immune cells.

The research is moving towards clinical testing and product development with a recent $15 million investment in start-up biotechnology company Vaxxas Pty Ltd.

Early stage testing in animal models shows the Nanopatch delivery enhances immunogenicity for seven different vaccines, compared to the needle and syringe.

Nanopatch delivery can improve the efficiency of vaccines — including achieving protection against influenza — with only 1/150th of the dose used with a needle and syringe.

The Nanopatch has the potential to improve patient convenience; reduce needle-stick injuries; and overcome cross contamination.

It is designed for thermostability and may not need refrigeration, potentially making transport much cheaper and easier, particularly to developing nations around the world.