New imaging technology for tumour diagnosis
University of Adelaide researchers are developing a new imaging technology showing promise as an improved diagnostic tool for cancer tumours.
The project to develop `imaging mass spectrometry' is one of several cancer research projects at the University's $3 million Adelaide Proteomics Centre.
The Adelaide Proteomics Centre is a joint venture of the University's School of Molecular and Biomedical Science and the Hanson Institute, and was opened in 2006 with a $1.5 million grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF). Other funding came from the University, the Hanson Institute, the Australian Research Council, the CSIRO and the State Government through BioInnovation SA.
Imaging mass spectrometry is being used to classify tissue sections from tumour biopsies with the results presented as a colour image showing tumour type and its distribution within the surrounding tissue.
Current tumour diagnosis from biopsies uses stained tissue sections and immuno-histochemistry. These techniques take 1-2 days and require specific antibodies to distinguish between tumour types.
"There still aren't antibodies identified for all tumour types," said Dr Peter Hoffmann, Director of the Adelaide Proteomics Centre. "This technology means we can distinguish between tumours without the need for antibodies and it also should be much faster, 1-3 hours rather than days."
The researchers, including PhD student Johan Gustafsson, have been developing the technology using mouse models with multiple sclerosis, and it also has been tested on human ovarian cancer.
"We're now testing different mouse tissues to improve the technology," said Dr Hoffmann. "To be used as a diagnostic tool, we need to ensure we have reproducible results."
Proteomics involves the identification and quantification of proteins and analysis of their interactions, activities and functions.
Adelaide Proteomics Centre has the most advanced instrumentation of its kind in Australia. It provides proteomic services for researchers nationally and overseas, and for the biotechnology industry.
Other research includes looking for biomarkers for gastric and ovarian cancers, and investigating the signal pathways leading to protein modification in cells which causes cancer.
Story by Robyn Mills