Biotechnology Focus

Laboratory Focus September 2012

Biotechnology Focus is Canada's leading authority on Canada's life science news. From biopharma and healthcare to ag-bio and clean tech, our readership includes life science professionals, C-level executives and researchers.

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PHARMACEUTIC A L CL INIC A L C HEMIC A L FOOD ENVIRONMENT Laboratory Safety Proving its Worth Page 7 SEPTEMBER 2012 Volume 16, Number 5 Maintaining PPE for Optimal Use Page 12 R&D News ......................... 1 Appointments .................... 5 Pharma Notes .................... 6 New Products ..................15 Calendar ..........................17 Career Spotlight...............18 SCIENTISTS CREATE FIRST EVER 3-D PANCREAS IN A DISH Scientists in Toronto have created a tiny, living 3-D organ model of pan- creatic ducts to help them conduct research on pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest and least under- stood of all cancers. The 3-D organ model could lead to new ways to detect and treat pancreatic cancer, which has a very poor survival rate with only about six per cent of patients surviving five years after diagnosis. Using thousands of the tiny 3-D models in petri dishes in his lab, Dr. Muthuswamy and his team at Toronto's Princess Margaret Hos- pital will use genetic manipulation to recreate the events that lead to cancer formation in the pancreas. The researchers will add genes, hormones, and other agents to see what causes the cells to mutate into cancerous lesions. In patients, unfortunately, these lesions prog- ress very quickly to late stage pan- creatic cancer. "In most biological cancer re- search, we grow and study cells in a flat layer, like a lawn, in a petri dish," says Dr. Muthuswamy. "But cells don't exist in our bodies like that. They exist as 3-D tubes and vessels, so if you study them in a flat layer, you will not be able to ask all the right questions. These models are much more realistic, much closer to what actually happens in our bodies." Dr. Muthuswamy hopes that by observing the different stages of disease, his team will be able to identify new biological markers to detect and diagnose pancreatic cancer early (similar to the way high cholesterol points to a higher risk of heart disease). "We're very excited about this powerful discovery because it's going to set the stage for identi- fying new biomarkers and treat- ments for pancreatic cancer," says Dr. Muthuswamy. "It really takes us to a new dimension." UBC RESEARCHERS LINK PARKINSON'S TO SEVERE FLU Dr. Senthil Muthuswamy's lab is the first to develop and use a 3-D model of pancreatic ducts to study how this devastating cancer starts and progresses. (CNW Group/Canadian Cancer Society (National Office)) Severe influenza doubles the odds that a person will develop Parkinson's disease later in life, according to University of British Columbia researchers. The findings were published online in the journal Movement Disorders in July by researchers at UBC's School of Population and Public Health and the Pacific Parkinson's Research Centre. The research results are based on interviews with 403 Parkinson's patients and 405 healthy people in BC, Canada. Publications Mail Registration Number: 40052410 Lead author Anne Harris also examined whether occupational exposure to vibrations – such as operating construction equip- ment – had any effect on the risk of Parkinson's. In another study, published online this month by the American Journal of Epidemiology, she and her collaborators reported that occupational exposure actu- ally decreased the risk of develop- ing the disease by 33 per cent, compared to people whose jobs involved no exposure. Continued on page 4

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