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New Island lab using space technology to study how body fights cancer

Island scientists hope a new lab will help better understand how the immune system responds to cancer.

The lab is funded with $2.4 million from the Terry Fox Research Institute. It will use the same imaging technology used to classify stars to look closely at tumour cells, and how the human immune system reacts.

For example, one of the project goals is to study pancreatic cancer cells, to find out how they can change themselves to avoid being destroyed by the immune system, and hopefully find better cancer treatments.

“I am grateful to be a part of such an amazing team and look forward to the exciting research to come,” says Dr. Kyle Duncan, chemistry professor at VIU who will co-lead the lab. “This funding will allow us to further develop our technology to help understand how tumours can evade our immune systems.”

Duncan and Dr. David Goodlett, Director of UVIC’s Genome BC Proteomics Centre, will operate the lab, called the Spatial Metabolomics Hub. It’s unique in Canada, and will operate for the next four years.

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