Diamond Light Source, the UK’s synchrotron science facility, is being used by a Stoke-on-Trent based clinician to develop new ways to detect cancer.
Located in south Oxfordshire, the Diamond synchrotron’s new infrared facility is helping researchers to identify, at single cell level, biomarkers in cancer cells to distinguish healthy cells from cancerous ones. The outcome could be quicker cancer detection meaning starting treatment earlier and a reduction in health service costs.
Dr Josep Sulé-Suso, an oncologist specialising in lung cancer based at the new Cancer Centre at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, and at the Guy Hilton Research Centre, Keele University, is the lead researcher on the project. He says,
“One in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime and research has shown that survival rates are higher the earlier the cancer is diagnosed. One of the problems faced by pathologists when trying to diagnose cancer is the presence of abnormal cells in biopsy samples. This is when the patient’s biopsy contains cells that are not normal but can neither be confirmed as cancer. The patient will have already undergone a biopsy, which carries side effects and risks, and will have to face further biopsies for the pathologist to be able to confirm whether the patient has cancer or not, delaying the treatment and increasing the costs to the health service.”
Dr Josep Sulé-Suso, University Hospital of North Staffordshire/Keele University
Along with his fellow researchers and the team of Diamond scientists at the B22 Infrared beamline lead by Dr Gianfelice Cinque, Dr Sulé-Suso has just published a paper in the journal Laboratory Investigation describing how synchrotron-based infrared technique can be used to aid cancer diagnosis using stained samples. In December 2009, Dr Sulé-Suso became the first researcher to use the new infrared capabilities at Diamond Light Source.
The next stage of this research is to widen and expand the studies involving a much larger number of lung cancer patients. Once the markers have been identified and the preliminary work has been confirmed, this research will make it easier to study abnormal cells using equipment available in a pathology lab to confirm whether they are cancerous.
The image to the left shows Dr Sulé-Suso in front of the microscope with Dr Cinque to his left, and the rest of the B22 beamline team at Diamond.
"We welcome the increase in biomedical applications of the synchrotron and look forward to more collaboration with NHS based clinicians in years to come."
Chief Executive of Diamond Light Source, Professor Gerd Materlik
Dr Sulé-Suso’s research focuses on lung cancer, which is the second most common cancer diagnosed in the UK after breast cancer, but it is thought that this work and the findings of these studies could be transferred and carried out on other cancers.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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