Category Archives: Research

The Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) and Centre for Computational and Systems Medicine (CCSM) organized a successful inaugural research symposium entitled Precision Nutrition on the 14th of October 2022 at Murdoch University. 

Dr. Ruey Leng Loo, Western Australia (WA) Premier’s Mid-Career Fellow, who chaired the symposium said “we achieved the aims of the symposium, which were to promote networking opportunities between industry and academia communities in WA, and to give Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students and early career researchers (ECR) a platform to present their work to experts within the field.” The symposium was well attended and had representatives from various WA universities and industries. 

Professor Gary Frost, Imperial College London, United Kingdom, as a keynote speaker emphasized the importance of addressing the complexity of different people in responses to different foods and gave a detailed presentation of new methods for progressing science in this area.  Associate Professor Claus Christophersen, Edith Cowan University, gave an eloquent presentation on methods for assessing the impact of food on microbiome, which was echoed by Professor Elaine Holmes, ARC Laureate Fellow, who talked about the integration of metabolic and microbial data in dietary studies. 

Mr. David Doepel, Melville Park Farm, highlighted the importance of flavors irrespective of the nutritional value of food whereby researchers must bear in mind that consumers would not eat something that does not taste good despite the nutritional value of the food.  Mr. Doepel also further emphasized the connection between an individual’s memory with their choices of food selections.  This underpins an important factor for consideration in precision nutrition. 

Other industry speakers included Dr. Carlotta Petti (myDNA) in addition to academic, Dr. Rachelle Pretorius (Telethon Kids Institute).

HDR and ECR presented their work either as a poster or a 5-minute flash talk.  These flash talks spanned a diverse range of topics including the use of state-of-the-art analytical instruments to precisely characterize foods and biological specimens.  Mr. Yimin Wang's presentation on the analysis of high-value Bravo™ apples using nuclear magnetic resonance was awarded as the winner of the Judges Award whilst Miss Charlotte Rowley presented her work on dietary intake and maternal metabolic profile during pregnancy and was awarded the People’s Choice Award. 

Both Yimin and Charlotte’s works are part of the Future Food Systems Cooperative Research Centre (FFS-CRC) project led by Dr. Ruey Leng Loo, in collaboration with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Bruker Biospin, an international analytical manufacturer.  Dr. Loo said “The FFS-CRC project aims to connect nutritional quality and composition with positive healthcare outcomes through nutritional health claims. Both Charlotte and Yimin presented some of the preliminary results at the symposium.”

Professor Jeremy Nicholson, Director of the Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) said “This symposium represents a snapshot of the world leading personalized nutrition research currently going on in WA -and the critical role of molecular Phenomics in unscrambling the complex multi-system interactions that underpin health.  Nutritional control is an essential component of global preventive medicine strategies and one element of our lives that we can manipulate to effect health improvements at both the personal and population level. We hope that this will be the first of many ANPC catalysed network events that will enable future precision medicine and population healthcare initiatives. 

Dr. Ruey Leng Loo said,” we want to capitalize on the successes of this symposium and are planning for a Precision Medicine Symposium in 2023.  So watch this space”. 

Researchers at the Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) at Murdoch University have successfully detected and quantified newly discovered biomarkers of SARS-CoV-2 acute infections and of ‘Long COVID’ using a benchtop Fourier Transform nuclear magnetic resonance (FT-NMR) spectrometer with a permanent magnet, thereby lowering the barrier to clinical translation of this epidemiological and diagnostic research technology. Under the direction of Professor Jeremy Nicholson, the research found that the unique signatures and quantification of the inflammatory biomarkers developed on a 600 MHz Bruker Avance IVDr NMR system could be reproduced on the 80 MHz Bruker Fourier 80 Benchtop FT-NMR spectrometer.

Combining benchtop NMR with high-field NMR enables clinical translation to extend the reach of this powerful
technology to suit the differing clinical and research market needs.

The ANPC-Bruker collaboration used a sophisticated J-edited diffusional (JEDI) NMR experiment on the Fourier
80 to obtain quantitative signatures of two biomarker signals from N-acetylated glycoprotein (Glyc) and a novel
supramolecular phospholipid composite (SPC) from phospholipids in lipoproteins, enhanced by a combination
of relaxation, diffusion and J-editing properties of the JEDI experiment that attenuate contributions from other
molecular species in plasma. This JEDI experiment also demonstrates excellent discrimination of COVID-19
from control patients.

The novel Glyc/SPC ratio measurement has emerged as a useful molecular biomarker of inflammation in Long
COVID, which could significantly improve current clinical and therapeutic understanding of the acute disease
and of Long COVID.

Following the recent launch of the Bruker PhenoRisk PACS™ RUO module on its Avance IVDr 600 MHz NMR
system – for molecular phenomics research on ‘Long COVID’ patient blood samples – this latest test further
demonstrates that the metholology can be reliably transferred to a compact benchtop FT-NMR system, as JEDI
overcomes the issue of reduced dispersion and enhanced signal overlap typically associated with a lower field
spectrometer.The simplified sample preparation developed for benchtop applications also supports data
acquisition in a similar timeframe to high speed instruments, and further experiments suggest the potential of
quantification of the SPC/Glyc ratio in just minutes.

Prof. Jeremy Nicholson, Director of the ANPC, commented: “Our major goal is to detect new disease signatures
and translate them into the clinic. This involves developing innovative new technologies that will
immediately benefit human health, whilst laying a platform for future scientific discoveries. Quickly and
efficiently testing for informative biomarkers in large numbers of human blood samples with easy-to-use
instruments is a major milestone, proving that NMR analysis could begin to play an important role in patient
care. In the case of Long Covid we need to measure, monitor and mitigate the disease process, and benchtop
technologies will be an important part of delivering that translational mission at the population level. We believe
these findings will facilitate work in samples from patients with SARS-CoV-2 acute infection and Long COVID
using benchtop devices, and we look forward to continuing our strategic partnership with Bruker into other
disease areas.”

Dr. Iris Mangelschots, Division President of Bruker BioSpin’s AIC, added: “This is a powerful example of how
NMR spectroscopy can help in the development of new epidemiological and clinical research methods. NMR
can play a pivotal role in measuring COVID-19 progression quantitatively based on phenomic molecular
signatures, and it may therefore be beneficial in the development of Long COVID clinical management and
treatment options. The potential of translating biomarker quantification from the high field Avance IVDr to the
benchtop Fourier 80 extends the reach of NMR to laboratories that do not have the high-field NMR
infrastructure. This new lab topology can bring the benefits of this solution to a broader medical research

The compact, high-performance Bruker Fourier 80 Benchtop FT-NMR features a novel, ultra-stable 80MHz
permanent magnet and operates using a standard electrical power. With no need for cryogens or specialized lab
infrastructure, installation or operator training, the Fourier 80 delivers the power of FT-NMR in a push-button
instrument, paving the way for routine targeted NMR biomarker research in any lab.

Murdoch University’s Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) has made a vital technological breakthrough that could assist general practitioners diagnose the long-term effects of COVID-19 and long COVID-19.

With no current framework or diagnostic tools, patients suffering from the effects of COVID-19 and long COVID-19 present general practitioners with a major health challenge. 

But the latest discovery from the ANPC will aid the diagnosis of debilitating symptoms that can include severe headaches, extreme exhaustion, heart palpitations and brain fog. 

It comes in the form of a new diagnostic tool that could be easily deployed in medical practices across the world, at low cost. 

Eighteen months ago, the researchers used multi-million-dollar nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology to identify new diagnostic molecular biomarkers that tell if someone has the disease, without the need to detect the disease itself.  

They then used this work to develop an inexpensive clinical NRM, that general practitioners can use to detect vital blood markers to predict the long-term effects of the conditions.  

The technology uses a specially designed set of radio pulses to extract signals from highly specific biomarker signals (from inflammatory glycoprotein markers and fats bound to lipoproteins) that gives a rapid diagnosis in approximately a minute. 

The findings were recently published in leading analytical chemistry journal, The Analyst. 

Professor Jeremy Nicholson, Director of the ANPC and Pro Vice Chancellor for the Health Futures Institute, said they represent a translational triumph that will ultimately benefit COVID-19 patients in clinics throughout the world, as well as have the possibility for application across many other diagnostic areas including cardiovascular disease.  

“We only discovered these signals about 18 months ago using a more expensive NRM instrument, but with some pulse sequence modifications, we are now able to get identical results on small machines that costs one tenth of the price,” Professor Nicholson said. 

“We think this technology (low field NMR spectroscopy) will probably have many other clinical applications in the future and may be of particular value in monitoring some of the residual effects of long COVID in individual patients,” he added.  

The clinically deployable technology was developed in conjunction with the ANPC’s strategic partner, Bruker BioSpin GmbH who manufacture the NMR instruments.  

Professor Julien Wist from the ANPC said this technological advancement has many benefits, including cutting costs. 

“It ticks all the boxes for a successful translational technology: low costs, low maintenance, no specialist required and no need for complex algorithms to understand the data,” Professor Wist said. 

The ANPC has a major long COVID research program, completed by a recently awarded $3.4M grant from the federally fundedMedical Research Future Fund (MRFF), and initiated with the support from other funders including Spinnaker Health Research Foundation and the West Australian state government.  

“Spinnaker funded one of the first long COVID research projects in the world back in mid-2020,” Professor Nicholson said. 

We are glad now that we have been able to develop a translational technology that might be useful in monitoring COVID recovery, and we think the possible cardiovascular problems that can be caused by the disease.” 

Spinnaker Chief Executive, Dana Henderson, said the research into long COVID was one of the most important projects the Foundation had funded in its 25-year history. 

“The purpose of our Foundation is to pioneer new ways of doing medicine for the benefit of the entire community,” Ms Henderson said. 

We knew very early on that we needed to respond to this health crisis and to see the research at ANPC translate into a diagnostic tool that could be easily deployed in clinical settings through the world, at low cost, and for immediate benefit to patients, is tremendously rewarding.” 

Murdoch University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research and Innovation Professor Peter Davies emphasised the importance of the research at ANPC.

“This is a key role of the Centre to develop innovative new technologies that are able to translate to immediate benefits to human health, whilst laying a platform for future discoveries.”

This research supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Murdoch University’s Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC), in partnership with Bruker Corporation has launched a new NMR-based tool for phenomics research into addressing and understanding long-term COVID-19 symptoms.

Developed using a combination of metabolic markers discovered by ANPC Director Professor Jeremy Nicholson and his team, this tool provides researchers with the ability to monitor early-stage risk factors as well as recovery after being infected with COVID-19.

Professor Nicholson and his team have published their findings internationally using metabolic phenotyping to study COVID-19 infections, and more recently, in Long-COVID or Post-acute COVID-19 syndrome.

These findings have laid the foundation for the new PhenoRisk PACS test which uses NMR to distinguish individuals with Long-COVID from those who are healthy or have fully recovered from the disease.

“This tool will allow researchers to explore the molecular and biochemical basis of this complex disease and enable us to determine both the long term and persistent impacts of COVID-19," Professor Nicholson said.

“Specifically, this test will use a new NMR Supramolecular Composite (SPC) Marker in combination with composite signals of glycoproteins and phospholipids to provide researchers with specific information about the risks of secondary organ damage including those associated with cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes, kidney dysfunction and hyper-inflammation.

"This development is an excellent example of fundamental discovery at the ANPC coupled to an active clinical translation process through our industry partners.

The rapid 20-min blood test is a multi-level and multi-parameter healthcare assessment tool for Long-COVID that is now available for research use. 

It is automated and standardised across the Bruker Avance IVDr Nuclear Magnetic Resonance system allowing researchers to measure the health profiles of those affected.

ANPC researchers are using this technique to simultaneously assess multiple biological mechanisms of action with the aim to provide actionable information for suitable intervention that can help Long-COVID patients accelerate their recovery.

For more information please see here