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30 Jun 2022

ACRF INCITe Centre for world-class cancer imaging launches at the Garvan Institute

The new ACRF INCITe Centre provides world-leading microscope technology for unprecedented views of cancer and immune cell interactions, a game-changer for cancer research

Researchers examine imaging in the ACRF INCITe Centre at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Today marks the official launch of a new cancer imaging centre at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. The ACRF Intravital Imaging of Niches for Cancer Immune Therapy (INCITe) Centre houses two Australian-designed, world-leading microscopes, giving unprecedented views of the interactions between cancer cells and the immune system.

The microscopes can record real-time images of cancer-immune cell interactions in vivo and at the molecular level, giving researchers a comprehensive view of how the immune system can work to fight cancer.

“With this this cutting-edge technology we aim to figure out why some cancers respond to immunotherapy and others don’t,” says Co-Director of the Centre, Professor Paul Timpson. “It’s an exciting step forward for cancer research”.

The establishment of the ACRF INCITe Centre, was made possible thanks to a $3 million grant awarded by Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF).

World-class microscopes to search for cancer clues

The two custom microscopes – the ‘EndoNICHEscope’ and ‘Molecular NICHEscope’ – will help researchers to study living tumours inside mouse models in real time and provide greater insight into how drug-resistant, dormant cancer cells develop and how they interact within the immune system.

Researchers will use the EndoNICHEscope to identify cancer and immune cells in previously inaccessible regions of tumours, even deep inside bone, using a minimally invasive micro-endoscope.

The second microscope, Molecular NICHEscope, can visualise signalling between cancer and immune cells in unprecedented and real-time detail, in otherwise inaccessible organs such as the lung and pancreas, using a state-of-the-art detection unit and sophisticated image processing software. The microscope can also be used to investigate the real-time actions of live tumour cells as they respond to various drugs.

“By looking deep inside tumours, in real-time, we can start to gain a crucial understanding of how cancer cells operate and how we can develop therapeutic targets to eradicate cancer” says Co-Director Professor Tri Phan.

The ACRF INCITe Centre brings together medical researchers around Australia and the world via a virtual lab and onsite assistance from Garvan scientists.