UQ facility sheds new light on cancer growth and behaviour

17 April 2018

Researchers will soon understand how to better target cancer treatments with the opening of a new Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) facility at The University of Queensland (UQ) today (Tuesday 17 April).

The $2.3 million ACRF Cancer Ultrastructure and Function Facility, to be opened by Acting Queensland Chief Scientist Dr Christine Williams, will provide unprecedented visualisation of cancer cells and how they multiply and react to their environment and to drugs.

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UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) Director Professor Brandon Wainwright said the  the facility would provide a vast leap forward in the understanding of cancer.

“This new facility, established thanks to the generosity of ACRF supporters, will allow us to marry our knowledge of the genomics that drive cancer cells with a knowledge of how these cells behave in their micro-environment,” he said.

“The ability to view and track cancer cells will enable us to see, in nearly real time, how healthy cells turn cancerous, the changes in surrounding tissues that allow these cells to spread and how cancer cells respond to their micro-environment, including the presence of therapeutic drugs.

“This knowledge will set us on the path of developing new and improved therapies for cancer, and arm doctors with information that will help them recommend the most appropriate treatment for a patient’s individual cancer.”

The facility houses three microscopes at the cutting-edge of imaging technology, and represents the first time such imaging capability has been combined with expertise in genomics, cancer models, drug development and the clinic.

Acting Queensland Chief Scientist Dr Christine Williams said Queensland had an enviable reputation for developing innovative solutions to health problems to save lives in Australia and around the world.

“Talented scientists, researchers and clinicians from across a number of related disciplines will now have access to the latest imaging technologies and the ability to work directly with patients to fast-track the development of new therapies,” Dr Williams said.   

ACRF CEO Professor Ian Brown said ACRF was proud to continue to support cancer research at IMB. This is the fourth ACRF grant awarded to the Institute. 

“The new microscopes at IMB will allow researchers to observe the structure and function of living cancer cells in real time with unprecedented resolution, giving them the opportunity to optimally target and fine-tune cancer treatments,” Professor Brown said.

“It is our hope that this will assist IMB in making significant contributions to the global understanding of how cancers grow and develop, to improve treatments and patient outcomes.

“Thanks to the generosity of many ACRF supporters – individuals, families, organisations and community groups from around Australia – we are able to award high-impact technology grants to advance research into prevention, diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancer.

“We are proud of our long-standing association with IMB. It is our mission to do everything we can to provide Australia’s best researchers with the tools they need to outsmart cancer.”

The ACRF Cancer Ultrastructure and Function Facility involves researchers from IMB and UQ’s Diamantina InstituteFaculty of Medicine, and Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis.

Media contact: Bronwyn Adams, communications@imb.uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 2134, 0418 575 247

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