Many thanks to Neven Maguire for joining us recently in the Cancer Molecular Diagnostics Lab to see the Hamilton STARlet liquid handling robots.
Neven, our ambassador for Target Lung Cancer, was fascinated to hear how these robots are helping our Lung Cancer Team to improve patient diagnosis.
We would like to thank all of our supporters who have helped fund vital equipment for lung cancer research and patient diagnosis/care here at St James’s Hospital.
The Target Lung Cancer Team explain the impact of this new equipment on their work:
Lung cancer is a disease that is generally associated with poor treatment outcomes relative to many other forms of cancer. In recent years it has become possible to derive a genetic profile of a patient’s lung cancer to aid in the selection of treatment. In a limited number of cases a patient’s cancer may be suitable for treatment with a targeted therapy i.e. a therapy that specifically targets a weak-spot of the cancer. Molecular testing of DNA extracted from the cancer is often performed to determine if the patient’s tumour harbours one of these cancer weak-spots.
Molecular testing can be costly and time consuming and any initiative that reduces the cost of staff requirement for testing is explored to ensure that resources are available to deliver new tests as they become available. The Hamilton STARLet in the Cancer Molecular Diagnostics (CMD) laboratory was part-funded by St James’s Hospital Foundation’s Target Lung Cancer Appeal to enable the delivery of an expanded repertoire of molecular testing for our cancer patients. Using the STARLet it is now possible to automate molecular testing of tumour DNA. The time saved by using the STARLet has meant that we have also been able to deliver a blood test for molecular cancer analysis. The introduction of this new test means that patients who previously had to undergo an invasive biopsy can now have their testing performed on blood which can eliminate the need for a biopsy or re-biopsy.
Thanks to support from Target Lung Cancer / St James’s Hospital Foundation, St James’s Hospital and the National Cancer Control Programme, our patients can benefit from a growing range of targeted therapies and where a suitable therapy is unavailable, patients can be screened for inclusion in a matched clinical trial. This is a significant advance for the treatment of lung cancer and we hope to continue to build upon this success.