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University research commercialisation company UniQuest Pty Limited has facilitated a research partnership between the University of Wollongong (UOW) and global analytical technologies leader AB SCIEX to develop lipid analysis capabilities, including the most definitive and comprehensive identification of double bond position in lipids.

The agreement provides AB SCIEX with an exclusive licence to UOW’s “OzID” intellectual property, a patented technology which allows scientists to understand lipid structure faster and with better granularity than currently available alternatives.

Funded by an ARC Linkage Project grant, the research plan will see a multi-disciplinary UOW research team working with AB SCIEX to develop a standardized procedure for determining double bond position in lipids. This will include exploring lipid functions within the human body, such as energy storage, cell membrane structure and hormone signalling.

UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson, said the licence agreement highlighted the growing interest from international companies in the work of Australian university researchers addressing global health issues.

“Protecting the intellectual property and securing US patents helped to boost the value of the OzID technology for industry partners like AB SCIEX,” Mr Henderson said.

“This joint development project is likely to draw more attention to the way Australian lab-based discoveries impact positively on emerging fields of science as well as translate into a better understanding of health and disease.”

The collaboration forms part of AB SCIEX’s new Academic Partnership Program, which helps support academic researchers to push the limits of biomedical research.

“Lipid research is a fast-growing area in need of new breakthroughs to advance the impact that lipidomics can have on biological studies,” said Mr Ron Bonner, Principal Scientist at AB SCIEX and sponsor of the AB SCIEX Academic Partnership Program.

“We see a great opportunity of applying cutting-edge intellectual property by working with the forward-thinking researchers at the University of Wollongong to take innovative ideas such as OzID from the idea phase to market.  This is the benefit of academics working with industry leaders such as AB SCIEX.”

Principal Investigator of the research program, Associate Professor Stephen Blanksby from UOW’s School of Chemistry, said altered lipid metabolism had been linked to such global health concerns as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and various cancers.

“Recent advances in mass spectrometry have spawned the field of lipidomics which, together with proteomics, metabolomics and genomics, focuses on the systematic study of complex interactions in biological systems,” Associate Professor Blanksby said.

"Ozone induced dissociation (or OzID) first harnesses the power of mass spectrometry to separate one lipid compound out of literally hundreds on the basis of mass, and then uses ozone like a pair of scissors to cut the molecule at a particular position, namely a double bond.

“This allows an unambiguous assignment of the compound structure and, importantly, differentiates molecules that vary only by the position of their double bonds.

“Learning more about the molecular distribution of lipids in complex biological samples may provide a greater understanding of lipid metabolism, its role in health and disease, and potential ways to prevent or manage diseases," Associate Professor Blanksby said.

Associate Professor Blanksby will be presenting results of his work with OzID at the 19th annual International Mass Spectrometry Conference (IMSC), 15-21 September in Kyoto, Japan.

The OzID research was published in the Journal of The American Society for Mass Spectrometry. The Patents were granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2010 and 2012.

Media enquiries:

UniQuest: Leanne Wyvill,  +61 7 3365 4037, 0409 767 199 or l.wyvill@uniquest.com.au
AB SCIEX: Anthony Petrucci, 1-508-383-7961 or anthony.petrucci@absciex.com
UOW: Gavin Dixon, +61 419 609 656 or gavin@uow.edu.au