Australian Research Council Training Centre for Innovative BioEngineering

Research Projects


Nanomaterials for Biomedical Applications


  • Carbon Nanodots

In the last decade, there has been a huge surge in the exploration of Carbon Nanodots (CDs) as next-generation nanoprobes with a wide range of biomedical applications including therapeutics, diagnostics, imaging contrast agents, biosensors, and drug carriers to name a few. CDs have numerous advantages compared with other commercially available bio-nanosensors because of their excellent biocompatibility, extremely low toxicity, increased sensitivity for target molecules in cells, and unique optical properties via their tailorable chemical structures.

Mr. Pooria Lesani, PhD student at the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Bioengineering, School of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Sydney. Currently, he is focused on the development of these novel bio-nanosensors for the early detection and diagnosis of chronic diseases with significant interest to the Australian and worldwide community such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Crohn’s disease. Recently, he has produced an audio-visual course material demonstrating the synthesis of his developed CDs:

Next, he has also demonstrated the unique optical properties of the developed CDs as well as their application as an outstanding bio-nanosensor for Ultrasensitive sensing of intracellular ferric ions and deep tissue imaging:

For more information on the unique optical properties and biological application of the CDs, please see our recent publication in the prestigious journal of ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces (click here).


Synthetic Scaffolds


  • New Synthetic Scaffolds for Tendon and Ligament Repair

Australia’s love of sport means it has one of the highest rates of knee anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and reconstruction in the world. Worldwide, the costs of tendon and ligament rupture repair and surgery revision represent tens of billions of dollars of the clinical orthopaedic market.

A team of biomedical engineering researchers from the University of Sydney, working with the Regenerative Engineering Laboratory at Columbia University and the FAU Erlangen-Nurnberg Institute of Medical Biotechnology (Germany), are hoping to improve the outcomes of tendon and ligament repair by developing a new synthetic scaffold for their regeneration. Led by the Head of the Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Research Unit and Director of the Australian Research Centre for Innovative BioEngineering, Professor Hala Zreiqat, working with postdoctoral researcher Dr Young No, the researchers are the first to develop and patent novel fibre-reinforced hydrogel scaffolds, a synthetic substance that has the ability to mimic and replace human tendon and ligament tissue.

“Ruptures to tendons and ligaments mostly occur in accidents and when playing sport. Worldwide and particularly in Australia, there is an immense clinical need for the development of readily available, off-the-shelf, mechanically strong synthetic tendon scaffolds,” said Professor Zreiqat, from the ARC Centre for Innovative BioEngineeringSchool of Biomedical Engineering and the Sydney Nano Institute.

“Conservative methods using immobilisation casts and movement restricting splints and braces often require several weeks of rehabilitation to achieve minimal functional recovery, while current implants carry a higher risk of rejection and infection.

“Our technology hopes to fast-track the restoration of tendons’ and ligaments’ mechanical function and support the growth of collagen tissue, without compromising the body’s biological response.”

Tested on patellar tendon models in rats, the synthetic scaffold has been developed with a stress resistance and water volume similar to real tendons and ligaments, allowing for the improved in-growth of collagen tissue.

“Until now, synthetic scaffolds have come with a significant risk of implant failure, as well as poor biological tissue integration and abrasion,” she said.

“Human tendons and ligaments are 70 percent water – they are complicated structures that include blood vessels, nerves and lymphatic vessels and perform the task of linking bone to muscle and moving the body.

“For synthetic scaffolds to be accepted by the body, their physical and chemical architecture must align with human tendons and ligaments.”

The researchers now hope to investigate the long-term behaviour of these scaffolds in both internal and externalbodily conditions, as well as to observe tissue integration and biomechanics in larger animal models.

The outcome of this outstanding project is published in Journal of ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering.