The use of silkworms to repair damaged tissue and nanotechnology to battle cancer will be canvassed at a major international conference on tissue engineering and biomaterials at the University of New South Wales this week.

UNSW will host the Third Indo-Australian Conference on Biomaterials, Implants, Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine from Wednesday, January 21 to Friday, January 23.

Biomedical engineers from leading research institutes across India and Australia will present more than 100 papers outlining new materials and methods which will potentially revolutionise the treatment of diseases such as diabetes and cancer, traumatic injuries such as severe burns and wounds and age-related conditions such as failing joints and eyesight.

Papers will be presented on topics including lab-grown replacement bone and soft tissue, oral insulin, new-generation skin-graft technologies and nanotechnology-based cancer treatments.

Dr Penny Martens, of UNSW's Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, has been investigating the use of natural silk proteins in replacing and repairing damaged tissue. Using silk from domesticated silkworms and a wild Indian silkworm, Dr Martens and UNSW Associate Dean (Research) Professor Laura Poole-Warren, along with researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, are testing the ability of silk proteins to support the regrowth of cells such as nerve cells, inside the body.

"The good thing about silk is that not only is it one of the strongest natural polymers, it also has the wonderful ability to interact with cells. In addition, this research capitalises and expands on a huge resource from India," Dr Martens said.

Professor Poole-Warren, the Australian Co-Chair of the conference, said the event aimed to develop new research collaborations.

"By bringing together researchers from across Australia and New Zealand with leading Indianresearchers we hope to develop greater awareness of the research being conducted in the field and foster research interactions between the participating countries," Professor Poole-Warren said.

For full details of the conference, including attendees and papers, visit the website at

Media Contact: Peter Trute | 02 9385 1933 | 0410 271 826 |