Precision X-rays enable precise research

Precision X-rays enable precise research

April 3, 2013

Flinders University Research Pulse

Mention the word 'radiation', and most people will usually have a negative resonse. However, the use of radiation is not only integral to many forms of medical treatments (such as diagnostic X-rays and radiotherapy), it's also utilised in numerous areas of medical research. Therefore, the recent acquisition by Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer and the School of Medicine of a new research-dedicated X-ray machine, the Precision XRAD 320, represents a significant benefit for the research interests of many scientists at Flinders University.

A unique aspect to this instrument is its capacity to deliver both high and low doses of radiation, a feature which will enable it to be used for a range of different types of studies. These include research into understanding the mechanisms behind tumour resistance to radiotherapy, the development of a test for breast and ovarian cancer risk, analysis of changes in gene expression following low-level radiation exposure, the effect of oestrogens on radiotherapy for oesophageal cancer, and the preparation of animal models for cell/tissue transplantation experiments. All of these research programs are aimed at the generation of new diagnostics, cancer prevention and treatment strategies, and many will be applicable for a number of other diseases.

Funding for the machine ($320,000) has been won from a number of sources, including the Ramaciotti Foundation, Flinders Medical Centre Foundation, Beat Cancer Project and Faculty of Health Sciences Infrastructure grants. Professor Pam Sykes, the driving force behind this acquisition and Strategic Professor in the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, says "The research which is now possible with this X-ray machine has the potential to change cancer treatment regimens, reduce side effects and improve quality of life".

The machine will be housed in the School of Medicine Animal Facility and will be available for use by all researchers from April 2013.

Article by Dr Karen Lower

Prof Pam Sykes