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November 2021

Lady holding a slide jpeg
Belinda Parker and the NanoMslide. (Picture courtesy of the Australian National Fabrication Facility)

Technology revolutionises cancer imaging

An advanced microscope slide promises to revolutionise medical imaging after researchers showed how it made cancer cells automatically light up in tissue samples.

NanoMslide was developed at La Trobe University by Professor Brian Abbey and co-inventor Dr Eugeniu Balaur, who teamed up with Belinda Parker at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre to trial it in detecting very early-stage breast cancer.

While a standard slide requires a staining step before it can be studied under a microscope, the NanoMslide removes this need and will automatically change colour if there are breast cancer cells in a tissue sample.

A study showing the hi-tech slide in action has just been published in Nature, the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journal.

‘When I first looked at a tissue under the microscope on the NanoMslide, I was incredibly excited,’ said Associate Professor Parker, who is also an adjunct associate professor at La Trobe.

‘For the first time I saw cancer cells just popping up at me.

‘They were a different colour from the surrounding tissue and it was very easy to distinguish them from surrounding cells.’

The study was conducted in collaboration with Professor Sandra O’Toole from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, who was the lead pathologist, and clinical and research partners at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University.

Professor Abbey’s group was able to develop the slide technology by harnessing open access equipment and expertise made available by the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication, the flagship facility of the Victorian node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility.