Accelerating the pace of medical research by 10,000 cells a second

18 February 2014, Technology

Thanks to the generosity of thousands of New Zealanders, the Malaghan Institute is at the forefront of developing ground-breaking new treatments for cancer, asthma and chronic inflammatory diseases.

This support powers the Institute’s pioneering clinical trials of our new immunotherapy approach against cancer.

We a’re able to research different diseases at the same time thanks to the expertise of our senior scientists and our technical knowledge of Flow Cytometry, a technique that underpins all of our research.

Flow Cytometry is essential for all of our health research, whether we’re researching new treatments for cancer, asthma or allergies. It give us the ability to pick out and analyse in great detail the individual immune cell causing diseases from all the other normal immune cells that are doing their job. This analysis runs at lightning speeds of tens of thousands of cells per second.

This increases the pace of health research, and is so important that almost 90% of our researchers use Flow Cytometry to develop immune-based therapies for the treatment of diseases such as cancer, asthma and allergy, multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

Generous support from organisations like the Hugh Green Foundation has enabled the Malaghan Institute’s Flow Cytometers to become one of the most advanced platforms in Australasia, and the busiest flow cytometry suite in New Zealand.  Scientists from all over the country and Australia come to use it due to its sophistication. Flow cytometers are unique because of the speed and sheer volume of information you can obtain from each cell. The Malaghan Institute can gather information from cells at rates of up to 10,000 cells per second.

This cutting edge technology needs highly skilled staff, and Kylie Price, our Cell Technology Suite Manager & Hugh Green Flow Cytometry Fellow, leads this vital team of specialists. The investment of the Hugh Green Foundation has been essential in growing Kylie’s expertise in Flow Cytometry, enabling Kylie to connect with and learn from the world’s experts in this exciting field of science.

There are very few Flow Cytometrists in New Zealand due to the expense and scarcity of the equipment, so Kylie’s skills are in demand. Kylie says growing up in rural New Zealand meant she saw the hardships of disease on animals, “These experiences created a passion for understanding what creates wellness. I wanted to find a career where I could improve the health of people and believed that science was the tool I could use to achieve this goal.”

“As my career developed, I realised that we could accelerate medical research through faster analysis of results. This got me thinking, 'how much faster could I push medical research using my skills?' Ultimately, this question led to my role as Hugh Green Flow Cytometry Fellow.”

“The team at the Malaghan Institute are the hardest working, most determined group of individuals I have ever met. But it's not about us; it's about people living with diseases and their families. We are fully committed to harnessing the immune system to make a difference for New Zealanders. We want to understand disease, not for the sake of it, but to control it.”

“Part of the reason for our recent increase in clinical trials for new treatments is due to our growing expertise in Flow Cytometry. I am immensely grateful for the unbelievable support of the Hugh Green Foundation. Their support of my development means that we’re able to do big science with a big aim – developing better treatments for our loved ones.”