Samantha Small prepares the BD Influx cell sorter for an upcoming experiment, carefully aligning each laser to its optimal setting.

Building a better future

29 April 2019

“Where the Malaghan Institute has achieved its greatest successes has been in building high technology platforms to investigate the most fundamental processes of biology and the immune system.”- Professor Graham Le Gros.

From pipettes to high-powered microscopes, from petri dishes to million-dollar cell sorters – technology is the foundation that underpins all scientific programmes at the Malaghan Institute.

But technology evolves at an often staggering pace. What is state-of-the art equipment today may be made redundant five years from now. Take genetic sequencing. Once, it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and a score of scientists to decipher a single genetic code. Today, it takes one person and an instrument the size of a stapler 20 minutes to do the same task.

The need for better, faster, more sophisticated technology has never been more important if we are to make meaningful, lasting improvements to human health and wellbeing says Malaghan Institute director Prof Le Gros.

“To continue our track record of breakthrough discoveries in immunology and immunotherapy, it is essential the Institute continues building on our existing technological capability.”

Thanks to philanthropic support, the Malaghan Institute has a number of ambitious projects underway to cement its position as leader in science technology and ensure that the Institute has the tools it needs to stay at the forefront of biomedical research and discovery.

A world-class cytometry core

“Spectral cytometry enables us to deeply interrogate which cell populations are present and what these cells are doing in the context of the diseases we study. With advances in this technology we’ll be getting unprecedented amount of information from each precious sample,” Kylie Price, Head of Research Technology.

Paramount to biomedical research is the technology that allows scientists to study and analyse individual cells at a microscopic level. Cytometry is one of the best tools available for this, and thanks to significant investment from the Hugh Green Foundation, the Malaghan Institute is set to be world-leading with this technology through the creation of the Hugh Green Cytometry Centre.

“Although the cost of biomedical technology is high, it’s vital for discovery,” says Prof Le Gros. “The technology and expertise in the Hugh Green Cytometry Centre – including across cytometry, microscopy, histology and software – will continue to enable the Malaghan Institute’s immunology research, and create for New Zealand a globally-recognised biomedical research centre that will improve human health.”

Setting the stage for the future of clinical research in New Zealand

“Freemasons donate extensively to medical research like the Freemasons CAR T-cell Research Programme because they are a promising and effective way that we can do something tangible to help New Zealanders,” Freemasons Grand Master Mark Winger.

Clinical trials are an essential step in translating fundamental research discoveries into treatments and therapies that improve the health of New Zealanders. Clinical programmes require a significant investment in technology and resources to ensure they meet strict safety, sterility and ethical requirements. Immunotherapeutic clinical programmes at the Malaghan Institute, such as the Freemasons CAR T-cell Research Programme, require specialised laboratories that meet ‘good manufacturing practice’ (GMP) standards.

These ‘GMP laboratories are more sterile than an operating theatre and have been a core component of the Institute’s clinical developments, including the recently completed melanoma vaccine trial and the upcoming CAR T-cell therapy clinical trial.

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