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Australia, the magazine : Australia, the magazine
Every year, there are 250 million malaria cases and nearly one million deaths, according to the World Health Organization. In Africa, one in every five childhood deaths is due to this deadly disease, caused by a parasite that has become resistant to many available medicines. But researchers have uncovered the workings of a protein that enables the malarial parasite to remove the drug chloroquine from its cells. This discovery looks set to revitalise the efficiency of chloroquine against the parasite, as well as set the stage for new drugs to be created to fight the disease . The work was led by Dr Spencer Maughan who began researching these genes in Professor Chris Cobbett's lab in the Department of Genetics at the University of Melbourne and involved an international team from the Universities of Melbourne, Cambridge (UK), Heidelberg (Germany), Liverpool (UK) and Rothamsted Research (UK). "Our findings set in motion the chance of reclaiming the efficacy of chloroquine which could turn the tide on the war against malaria and ultimately may help save millions of lives," says Maughan. With a child dying every 30 seconds from this deadly disease, the significance of the advance cannot be underestimated. NEW MALARIA HOPE 83 collaborative science A PROJECT WITH VISION Australia's government research agency, the CSIRO, is behind a world-first neutron air-cargo scanning technology, which won the prestigious 2009 Eureka Prize for Science in Support of Defence or National Security. A commercialisation joint venture with China's Nuctech Company Ltd, one of the world's biggest providers of security scanning equipment, will enable the technology to reach its greatest potential. CSIRO's scanning technology is designed to allow accurate and rapid detection of a wide range of 'threat items' potentially concealed inside air-cargo containers and pallets. In addition to identifying metal items such as weapons, the air-cargo scanning technology enables operators to identify organic materials such as narcotics and explosives. The venture has seen Nuctech and CSIRO work together to manufacture and demonstrate the first commercial unit of the new air-cargo scanner in Beijing. Dr Nick Cutmore leads the joint venture for CSIRO. "Nuctech's enormous engineering and manufacturing resources have enabled us to bring the scanner to market in an exceptionally short time," he says. Nuctech vice-president Mr Li says the mutual understanding between the two organisations and the increasing needs of aviation security are the driving forces for the partnership. "Development and commercialisation of air cargo-scanning technology will create significant added value for aviation security in the long term," Li says. MAN'S OTHER BEST FRIEND It's a match made in IT heaven: a company renowned for excellent interfaces between users and technology and a research team commi ed to taking robotics to a whole new level of user-friendly. at one company is in Japan and another in Melbourne has been no barrier to success. e Research Centre for Computers, Comm- unication and Social Innovation (RECCSI) at Bundoora is a new centre for collaboration between La Trobe University, Melbourne, Kyoto University and electronics giant NEC. First cab o the rank: La Trobe and NEC recently signed a Collaborative Research Agreement to bring their technologies together -- to produce a health-care robot with the capacity to recognise and respond to human emotions. Designed to assist senior citizens, it will exercise its own emotional intelligence to evaluate the emotional state of patients admi ed for surgery in hospitals and health care clinics. It will also assist carers and has applications in human resources, travel, security and road safety. It can even evaluate when a driver is about to nod o . e head designer of the intelligence programs is La Trobe University's Associate Professor Rajiv Khosla, director of RECCSI. " rough collaboration with NEC, Japan, Kyoto University and other international partners we are addressing global problems related to an ageing population, spiralling health-care costs, sustainability of organisations and the environment," says Khosla. " e global nature of these problems requires open innovation among researchers -- an idea promoted by NEC's C&C Innovation Research laboratory." e electronics giant NEC's personal robot nicknamed PaPeRo (Partner-type Personal Robot) is a phenomenal development in itself. Its natural expressions and ability to remember unique preferences combined with vast voice recognition and communication capabilities as well as the ability to recognise people's faces has brought around a new phase in personal computing. " e idea is to facilitate the well-being and sustainability of human society by improving the quality of life at work and in various lifestyle situations," says Khosla. Armed with Khosla's programming, these robots could soon be doing everything from helping children with autism to recruiting personnel. Khosla's emotionally intelligent systems technology has been patented by La Trobe as a "Method and System for Monitoring Emotional State Changes". e high functionality of the robot -- and its cuteness -- is pure NEC.