NEWS 4

Macinley on mission to help

IT is not everyday that a 17-year-old wins one of the most prestigious awards in science, but for Macinley Butson, it may become a regular occurrence.

After making history early this year as the first Australian to win the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair award, the prolific inventor from The Illawarra Grammar School has now been nominated for the 2018 NSW Young Australian of the Year.

Her invention, Smart Armour,

is a copper-based shield that protects a woman's non-cancerous breast during radiation therapy.

“It is laid over the contralateral breast and reduces the scatter radiation that occurs whilst undergoing radiotherapy,” she said.

“It is able to block up to 80 per cent of the electron contamination, which is the backscatter of radiation.”

The Smart Armour, which looks like like something out of

Game of Thrones, differs from common radiation-blocking materials.

“Lead is globally renowned as the best method for radiation protection, such as a lead apron you get at the dentist.

“But when I was trialling my prototype, I found copper to be 20 per cent more effective at the skin level.

“I thought I had done something wrong, so I tested it again and got the same results.

Read More

Macinley Butson: “I keep inventing to try and help people.”

Doubly damned: Diabetes stalks poor

THE lower your position in society the higher your risk of developing diabetes.

This grim truth was revealed by a University of Wollongong study that found people from disadvantaged areas are at most risk of illness from high blood sugar levels.

Researchers analysed data from 29,064 individuals in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven and found higher disadvantage was associated with higher blood sugar category.

The research, in collaboration

with Southern IML Pathology, found those in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods were one-and-a-half times more likely to be in the highest blood sugar category than those in less disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

Professor Andrew Bonney from UOW’s School of Medicine said the most vulnerable communities were at the highest risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

“The results were quite confronting,’’ he said.

“Increasing neighbourhood

disadvantage was associated with higher blood sugar levels, which can cause heart, kidney and eye disease.”

The research team hopes the findings result in better health services for disadvantaged communities.

The rapid increase in Type 2 diabetes is a major concern.

The ability to identify at-risk populations at a neighbourhood level allows public health programs and campaigns to be targeted more effectively.

Read More

Macinley Butson: “I keep inventing to try and help people.”

Macinley on mission to help

IT is not everyday that a 17-year-old wins one of the most prestigious awards in science, but for Macinley Butson, it may become a regular occurrence.

After making history early this year as the first Australian to win the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair award, the prolific inventor from The Illawarra Grammar School has now been nominated for the 2018 NSW Young Australian of the Year.

Her invention, Smart Armour, is a copper-based shield that protects a woman's non-cancerous breast during radiation therapy.

“It is laid over the contralateral breast and reduces the scatter radiation that occurs whilst undergoing radiotherapy,” she said.

“It is able to block up to 80 per cent of the electron contamination, which is the backscatter of radiation.”

The Smart Armour, which looks like like something out of Game of Thrones, differs from common radiation-blocking materials.

“Lead is globally renowned as the best method for radiation protection, such as a lead apron you get at the dentist.

“But when I was trialling my prototype, I found copper to be 20 per cent more effective at the skin level.

“I thought I had done something wrong, so I tested it again and got the same results.

“I also wanted to design something that can conform to any size or shape, which is the other issue with lead radiation shields as they have to be cut individually and can cost small hospitals more than $80,000.”

Macinley was inspired after one of her family members was diagnosed with breast cancer. She watched as her loved one battled through the after-effects of radiation, such as extreme skin burning.

Studies have shown that 1-in-14 women who undergo radiation therapy will develop another primary cancer in their breast later in life.

“They shouldn’t have to live with this, knowing somewhere in the back of their mind that this treatment which is supposed to help them, may actually be causing another cancer,” she said.

Whilst most inspiration for the TIGS student happens in the shower, she is quick to deny that inventing is all about epiphanies and light-bulb moments.

“It is more about perseverance and determination, along with an ability to realise ‘it isn’t working, so how can I change it?’ and then go back to the drawing board.

“There are tears and frustration and yelling, ‘nothing is working’, but it all worked out well, I think.”

When the Smart Armour invention won the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair award at the start of the year, it made Macinley the first Australian winner in the competition’s 50-year history.

The invention is now in its clinical trial phase at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse – but Macinley is not slowing down.

Another of her inventions, called SASS, collects and filters water via solar power. Macinley plans to take SASS to Vietnam next year, where she will educate women in small villages about the importance of fresh, clean drinking water.

“I keep inventing to try and help people. It’s my main motivator. It’s about seeing gaps in society, especially for people who are less fortunate. We are so lucky to live in Australia, we are so blessed.

“I want to try and improve other people's’ lives with what I’ve been given.”

The winner of the 2018 NSW Young Person of the Year will be announced on Monday, November 13.

- NATALIE AUSTIN

Doubly damned: Diabetes stalks poor

THE lower your position in society the higher your risk of developing diabetes.

This grim truth was revealed by a University of Wollongong study that found people from disadvantaged areas are at most risk of illness from high blood sugar levels.

Researchers analysed data from 29,064 individuals in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven and found higher disadvantage was associated with higher blood sugar category.

The research, in collaboration with Southern IML Pathology, found those in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods were one-and-a-half times more likely to be in the highest blood sugar category than those in less disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

Professor Andrew Bonney from UOW’s School of Medicine said the most vulnerable communities were at the highest risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

“The results were quite confronting,’’ he said.

“Increasing neighbourhood disadvantage was associated with higher blood sugar levels, which can cause heart, kidney and eye disease.”

The research team hopes the findings result in better health services for disadvantaged communities.

The rapid increase in Type 2 diabetes is a major concern.

The ability to identify at-risk populations at a neighbourhood level allows public health programs and campaigns to be targeted more effectively.

“Health services in disadvantaged communities are doing their best with the resources available,” Professor Bonney said.

“However, resources need to be increased to achieve favourable outcomes in disadvantaged groups. Given the high cost of diabetes complications, additional health care services in disadvantaged communities could mean a reduction in hospital costs down the track.”