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By David Pine

james araci

Remarkable research techniques are being employed by scientists at Wellington’s Malaghan Institute as they strive towards finding a cure for cancer.

Speaking at Plimmerton Rotary on 28 July, Malaghan’s National Development Manager, James Araci, explained that the Institute’s current focus centred on a science called Flow Cytometry. “This is a process using a special machine, which can analyse extremely quickly the properties of vast numbers of human cells that we wish to research. In fact our Flow Cytometer can analyse thousands of cells per second and show the results in real time.”

Founded in 1965 by benefactors Len and Ann Malaghan, and funded since then through the generosity of many organisations and individuals, the Institute had a proud history of achievement in medical research. Already they had created effective vaccines for leukemia, brain cancer, multiple sclerosis and asthma. “We are immensely proud of our achievements over the last 40 years. Our work is very important to New Zealanders because in this country we have among the highest rates in the world of melanoma, asthma in children, and allergies.”

Mr Araci made special mention of Kylie Price, who headed up Malaghan’s Cell Technology Suite Team. “Kylie was a Rotary International Exchange Student several years ago. No one in her family had done tertiary study but her time in Germany gave her the inspiration and confidence to go to university.  Not only does she now head up this important team at Malaghan, but she is the current President of the Australasian Cytometry Society.”

The purpose behind the cytometry research was to find a way to induce healthy human cells to attack cancer cells and destroy them. “We are developing what are known as Antigens to fight cancer in the body.  Basically what we are trying to do is to, if you like, supercharge the body’s immune system.”

Mr Araci explained that it was not generally known how comprehensive our immune system was in the human body. “Many of our internal organs form part of the immune system, for example our blood marrow, spleen, adenoids and the large intestine.”

Cancer was formed by a mutation of formerly healthy cells in the body. “We don’t yet know why these mutations occur. They may be linked to the person’s genetic makeup, or lifestyle, or diet, or other factors. But whatever causes them, we are more determined than ever to succeed in our mission to find a cure for this terrible disease.”

Snippets

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Amazing Research at Malaghan Institute

 
 
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