Cancer Research at Birmingham University
Birmingham University is ranked third in the UK for biosciences and has many great research projects including the cancer research of Dr Farhat Khanim with Prof Chris bunce. Yesterday at the School of Bioscience, Dr Khanim tested the ioLight portable microscope for use in her work trialling potential cancer therapies in a project called The Centre for Accelerated Drug Redeployment.
The clinics in which Dr Khanim is running tests are in remote places, don’t have lab facilities and are staffed by less experienced people. Conventional lab microscopes are too large, fragile and difficult to use in this situation. Portable microscopes are ideal for this work because they solve these issues. Other portable microscopes lack the image quality (resolution) to see inside the cancer cells, and many lack internet connectivity to automatically upload the images to the cloud. This feature allows researchers in Birmingham to immediately examine the images taken in the remote clinics. ioLight’s field micoscope is the perfect solution for Dr Khanim’s work because of the image quality (1 micron resolution) and internet connectivity.
Why is image quality is so important in Dr Khanim’s work?
All cells in our bodies go through a life cycle: growth – specialise to perform a function – carry out that function – die. It is very important that the cells die, otherwise the body quickly becomes unhealthy. Cancer cells cause harm because they start to grow but then don’t specialise and so don’t go on to die, but instead keep growing causing a wide range of problems – this is the basic feature of all cancers. Dr Khanim’s research uses the microscope to look at the cancer cells and then exposes the cells to different potential drugs to see if these drugs can induce the process of differentiation in the cell. If the differentiation process can be started, then the cells will ultimately die and so help to ‘heal’ the cancer. The onset of the differentiation process is signified by a change in shape of the cell nucleus – a growing cancer cell has a smooth, round nucleus, but when the cell is stimulated to differentiate by the drugs, the nucleus develops lobes and loses its circular shape.
Using the ioLight handheld digital field microscope, Dr Khanim took the image below of leukaemia cells and you can clearly see that some of the cells have started the differentiation process because the nucleus is starting to develop lobes – this clearly shows that ioLight’s portable microscope is suitable for use in cancer research.
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