A team of scientists from Australia was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize on Thursday, Sept. 17, for developing a vortex device that is capable of partially unboiling a whole egg. Experts believe this new technology can be used to improve the efficacy of cancer treatments.

Chemistry professor Colin Raston and his colleagues from Flinders University were honored for showcasing the capabilities of their invention known as the vortex fluidic device (VFD).

In their breakthrough study, featured in the journal Scientific Reports in May, the researchers made use of the vortex fluidic device to unfold protein content of a boiled egg in order to return it to its original goopy form.

According to Raston, this simple yet high-tech device can help revolutionize different fields of research, particularly medical and pharmaceutical studies, as it allows for cleaner and greener production at low cost.

He said that the VFD creates a new way for researchers to develop more economical and sustainable services, products and technologies, which could then accelerate innovation in various industries such as food production, biodiesel production and drug manufacturing.

The ability of the vortex fluidic device to manipulate chemical processes can allow pharmaceutical companies to make their products and processes more effective and efficient by streamlining the loading of medicines into nano-packages.

In the delivery of ovarian cancer drugs, for example, Raston and his colleagues discovered that the VFD can improve the loading of second generation cancer medicines, known as carboplatin, into delivery vehicles between 17 percent and 75 percent.

Not only would this help reduce known side-effects to the health of patients, but it would also allow them to use less of the medication.

By delivering more effective drugs, it would also lessen wastes produced during the manufacturing. It is estimated that as much as 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) of waste materials are produced in manufacturing one kilogram (two pounds) of cancer medicines and other drugs.

Raston said that much of these medicines often end up in sewerage systems, which could potentially create superbugs in the environment.

Flinders University is currently manufacturing the vortex fluidic device and it will be made available for scientific research for different international organizations.

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