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Interronauts: The CSIRO podcast

Interronauts | Episode 12: Elephant scarecrow, the OG, Adam & Eve of flowers, tarantula venom to save sheep, and Interronauts farewell

Well listeners, this is it for a little bit — Season One of Interronauts is over. In our last episode, we've got new technology from CSIRO: giving scarecrows a brain, we've got the evolution of the first flower ever (what!?), we've got more research on how tarantula venom can help treat enwormed sheep, and plenty more science shenanigans. (Don't forget to listen back through our back catalogue!)

Listen to the rest

Videos

[An image appears of a row of people in black and white and then gradually some of the people in the row are coloured pink, green and yellow]

Narrator: Every year 15,000 Australians are diagnosed with bowel cancer. When found soon enough it can be treated but for up to half of those Australians it will return.

[Image changes to show a blood drop, a measurer, an exclamation mark, a calendar and a plus sign all in a row and text appears beneath: Current test, low sensitivity, false positives, increased delays, reduced success]

Unfortunately, the current blood test to detect recurrence has low sensitivity and can give false positive results leading to delays in detection that reduce the chance of successful treatment.

[Image changes to show three researchers with text beneath: CSIRO, Clinical Genomics, Flinders University]

To solve the problem our scientists teamed up with Clinical Genomics and Flinders University.

[Camera zooms out and text appears above: Discovered common link in process called, DNA Methylation]

When investigating patient’s cancers, they discovered a common link in a process called DNA Methylation.

[Image changes to show two wavy lines with pink dots below the lines and green dots above the line linked to the line and then the dots change to yellow]

The process controls which genes are normally switched on or off in different cells in a body, such as the liver and muscle but with cancer the process often goes wrong.

[Image shows the dots disappearing and two text boxes appear above and below the lines: Methylated]

The team found two genes that were methylated in almost all bowel cancers.

[Image changes to show an animation model of blood moving through a blood vessel]

Armed with this information they studied the blood of bowel cancer patients.

[Image shows DNA fragments moving into the blood stream in the blood vessel]

Cancer cells were shedding tiny DNA fragments into the patient’s blood stream.

[Text appears: Polymerase Chain Reaction, PCR]

They applied a process called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, a way of investigating DNA.

[Image shows the PCR moving through the blood vessel]

With the PCR they found the methylated fragments of the two key genes they’d identified earlier could be detected in the blood of patients with cancer in their system.

[Image changes to show the researchers raising their hands]

They had found a marker to look for.

[Image of the researchers moves to the left and a highlighted droplet and text appears on the right: ColveraTM]

With that knowledge, they and their collaborators were able to develop and trial a new blood test called Colvera.

[Image moves to the left again and more text appears: 2 x, Twice as sensitive, !, Reduced False Positives]

It’s twice as sensitive as the existing test and doesn’t deliver false positives based on factors like smoking.

[Image changes to show a line graph on the left side of the screen displaying reliability and a line graph on the right of the screen showing recurrence rates]

This far more reliable test vastly increases the ability for survivors to stop bowel cancer recurrence in its tracks.

[Image changes to show a line of people in black and white and gradually some of the people are coloured pink and then green and text appears below the people: Early Diagnosis, Save Lives]

Early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment meaning Colvera has the potential to save lives in Australia and around the world.

[Image moves down the screen and text appears: ColveraTM]

[Music plays and CSIRO logo and text appears: Australia’s innovation catalyst]

Bowel cancer detected earlier with a simple blood test

Bowel cancer accounts for more than 600,000 deaths worldwide each year, with almost 15,000 new cases diagnosed annually in Australia. We teamed up with Clinical Genomics and Flinders University to develop and trial a new blood test called Colvera, which has the potential to save lives in Australia and around the world.

Watch more

[An image appears of a row of people in black and white and then gradually some of the people in the row are coloured pink, green and yellow]

Narrator: Every year 15,000 Australians are diagnosed with bowel cancer. When found soon enough it can be treated but for up to half of those Australians it will return.

[Image changes to show a blood drop, a measurer, an exclamation mark, a calendar and a plus sign all in a row and text appears beneath: Current test, low sensitivity, false positives, increased delays, reduced success]

Unfortunately, the current blood test to detect recurrence has low sensitivity and can give false positive results leading to delays in detection that reduce the chance of successful treatment.

[Image changes to show three researchers with text beneath: CSIRO, Clinical Genomics, Flinders University]

To solve the problem our scientists teamed up with Clinical Genomics and Flinders University.

[Camera zooms out and text appears above: Discovered common link in process called, DNA Methylation]

When investigating patient’s cancers, they discovered a common link in a process called DNA Methylation.

[Image changes to show two wavy lines with pink dots below the lines and green dots above the line linked to the line and then the dots change to yellow]

The process controls which genes are normally switched on or off in different cells in a body, such as the liver and muscle but with cancer the process often goes wrong.

[Image shows the dots disappearing and two text boxes appear above and below the lines: Methylated]

The team found two genes that were methylated in almost all bowel cancers.

[Image changes to show an animation model of blood moving through a blood vessel]

Armed with this information they studied the blood of bowel cancer patients.

[Image shows DNA fragments moving into the blood stream in the blood vessel]

Cancer cells were shedding tiny DNA fragments into the patient’s blood stream.

[Text appears: Polymerase Chain Reaction, PCR]

They applied a process called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, a way of investigating DNA.

[Image shows the PCR moving through the blood vessel]

With the PCR they found the methylated fragments of the two key genes they’d identified earlier could be detected in the blood of patients with cancer in their system.

[Image changes to show the researchers raising their hands]

They had found a marker to look for.

[Image of the researchers moves to the left and a highlighted droplet and text appears on the right: ColveraTM]

With that knowledge, they and their collaborators were able to develop and trial a new blood test called Colvera.

[Image moves to the left again and more text appears: 2 x, Twice as sensitive, !, Reduced False Positives]

It’s twice as sensitive as the existing test and doesn’t deliver false positives based on factors like smoking.

[Image changes to show a line graph on the left side of the screen displaying reliability and a line graph on the right of the screen showing recurrence rates]

This far more reliable test vastly increases the ability for survivors to stop bowel cancer recurrence in its tracks.

[Image changes to show a line of people in black and white and gradually some of the people are coloured pink and then green and text appears below the people: Early Diagnosis, Save Lives]

Early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment meaning Colvera has the potential to save lives in Australia and around the world.

[Image moves down the screen and text appears: ColveraTM]

[Music plays and CSIRO logo and text appears: Australia’s innovation catalyst]

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