Fitting out St Vincent’s cutting-edge ACRF Rational Drug Discovery Centre

current cancer researchAustralia’s first laser scanner cytometer, to be housed at St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, is set to cut years off drug development and cancer treatment trials.

The $700,000 machine was purchased as part of the fit-out of the Institute’s ACRF Rational Drug Discovery Centre, a facility made possible thanks to a $2 million ACRF grant, awarded at the end of 2011.

Stem cell researcher Associate Prof Louise Purton (pictured)  has said the scanner will allow researchers to study “anything we want to know about a cell – this should be able to answer it.”

“This is the way the cancer field is moving forward into finding a cure, by understanding why that cancer is forming and designing drugs that specifically target those cancer cells, as opposed to the other cells around it.”

The scanner not only allows researchers to better profile, test and monitor cancer cells – it also will reduce the impact on animals at trial-level.

Once a potential cancer-killing molecule has been identified and developed, Associate Prof Purton’s team can fluorescently tag the compound to see if the drugs are getting inside the cancer cells.

“Usually you just have to monitor the visual appearance of the animal to see if they’re showing any signs of any illness.

“But this method allows you to see the effect on the cell, and also on the cells around it,” Associate Prof Purton said.

“We can see what’s happening inside the organs, and monitor more specifically what’s happening with the drug.”

The ACRF Rational Drug Discovery Centre will open officially in May this year. We’re very proud to have funded the development of such a world-class cancer research facility.