A new diagnostic system used to detect cancer cells in small blood samples could next be turned towards filtering a patient’s entire system to remove those dangerous cells – like a dialysis machine for cancer – says an Australian researcher who helped develop the system.
The technique was developed for cancer diagnosis, and is capable of detecting (and removing) a tiny handful of cancer-spreading cells from amongst the billions of healthy cells in a small blood sample.
The revolutionary system, which works to diagnose cancer at a tenth of the cost of competing technologies, is now in clinical trials in the US, UK, Singapore and Australia, and is in the process of being commercialised by Clearbridge BioMedics PteLtd in Singapore.
Only 10 per cent of prostate cancers are lethal, but which ones? Australian researchers have tracked the mutations that drive the cancer to spread through the body, and eventually become lethal.
The research shows they can be detected in the original tumour and even in blood samples. Testing the DNA of prostate cancer cells may help clinicians in the future identify which cancers need to be urgently removed and which ones might simply be monitored.
“Some advanced cancer cells evolve the ability to break away from their original location, travel through the bloodstream and create secondary tumours in another part of the body,” explains Clare Sloggett, Bioinformatician and Research Fellow at the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI). “Cells in this state of metastasis are the most deadly.”
“Trait-based ecology” enables Macquarie University’s Mark Westoby to explain patterns of species occurrence and abundance and to understand the impacts of climate change and changing patterns of land use. He received the $55,000 NSW Scientist of the Year.
Nanocapsules for drugs delivery: Frank Caruso is making miniature capsules that could better deliver drugs for cancer, AIDS and cardiovascular diseases. He won one of the 2014 Victoria Prizes for Science & Innovation worth $50,000.
Harry Messel has been a powerful force in science education—from the Physics Foundation to textbooks and his establishment of International Science Schools. He was awarded the Academy Medal.
Simon McKeon is a prominent business leader and philanthropist who has made extensive contributions to Australian science and innovation including chairing the CSIRO Board and the agenda-setting McKeon report into medical research in Australia. He was awarded the Academy Medal.
The life and death of cells: Jerry Adams has advanced understanding of cancer development, particularly of genes activated by chromosome translocation in lymphomas. By clarifying how the Bcl-2 protein family controls the life and death of cells, he and his colleagues at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research have galvanised the development of a promising new class of anti-cancer drugs. Jerry was awarded the 2014 Macfarlane Burnet Medal. Continue reading Australian Academy of Science medals→
Natural phenols, such as those found in chocolate, and minerals such as iron are being used to develop fast, economical drug-delivery capsules.
Frank Caruso and his team at The University of Melbourne are making nano-sized capsules that will encase vaccines and protect them from being broken down when entering the body. They believe that this delivery system will be biologically friendly and overcome a major challenge for medical materials: their compatibility with living systems.
One of the challenges of treating diseases such as cancer and HIV is delivering treatment with minimal damage to healthy areas.
Stubborn cancer cells play a cunning trick when faced with treatments designed to kill them—they eat themselves to survive. But Lisa Schafranek has found a way to starve the cancer cells, making them more susceptible to cancer therapy.