Collaboration with Imperial College London and Institute of Cancer Research, London
New research involving Murdoch University’s Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) collaborating with Imperial College London and the Institute of Cancer Research in London, has revealed new insights into the dependence of breast cancer tumour growth on certain fats that might lead to novel therapeutic interventions.
Director of the Australian National Phenome Centre, Professor Jeremy Nicholson said integral to the research was the use of i-Knife mass spectrometry technology originally developed at Imperial by Professor Zoltan Takats, which provides near real-time diagnosis for optimal cancer removal during surgery.
The i-Knife is a modified surgical tool that allows for instantaneous chemical analysis of the smoke generated from tissue ablation and cauterization.
What this means is that as the i-Knife cuts into tissue, the aerosol of metabolites is sucked into and rapidly analysed in a mass spectrometer to differentiate cancerous from non-cancerous tissues with high precision,” Professor Nicholson said.
“In the current study, the unique chemical signatures have also given new insights into novel mechanisms relating to tumour growth.
“Cancers often grow and spread by consuming specific fats within the body- if we can limit the availability of these fats by dietary modulation or drugs, we might be able to develop novel preventive strategies as well as treatments.”
Professor Nicholson said the ANPC currently has the only operational iKnife technology platform in Australia, and this will be used for a diverse range of diagnostic studies beyond of cancer including inflammatory bowel diseases and burns. But it can also be used for rapid food analysis for authentication and characterisation purposes.
“The i-Knife is an extraordinarily versatile tool for the real time analysis of almost any biological material, food or tissue - one minute it can be applied to cancer diagnostics, the next minute to a food science problem – but its real power comes from understanding the molecular signatures which relate to underlying the chemical processes involved”.