BBC News has been inside the new Glasgow Lighthouse Lab, a collaboration between the University of Glasgow, the private sector, the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute and the NHS. Several researchers from the Beatson as well as colleagues from the Institute of Cancer Sciences are volunteering in lab, including Jo Birch, Jodie Hay, Nati Gomez-Roman, Grant McGregor, Lynn McGarry and Natasha Malik.
Grant, Lynn and Natasha are pictured here in the lab in their protective gear:
It was announced today (22 April 2020) that a major new COVID-19 testing facility, the Lighthouse Laboratory in Glasgow, has opened in collaboration with the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute.
The Lighthouse Laboratory is funded by the UK Government and hosted by the University of Glasgow at its campus at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. Around a quarter of the scientist volunteers who will carry out COVID-19 tests are from the CRUK Beatson Institute. As well as the volunteers, the Institute has donated kit to set up the Glasgow testing facility, including four PCR machines and vital reagents.
In response to today's announcement, Professor Owen Sansom, Director of the CRUK Beatson Institute, said:
"I am incredibly proud of all our staff and scientists from the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute who have volunteered to put their expert skills and talent to use at the Glasgow Lighthouse Laboratory to help our NHS colleagues and the COVID-19 response. Just like cancer research, this fight is about everyone working together to make a difference. Cancer won't be going away during or after COVID-19 but, by helping the global effort to tackle the virus, we hope we can get back to beating cancer as soon as possible."
The University of Glasgow has announced it will host a major COVID-19 testing centre at its Clinical Innovation Zone at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus in Glasgow as part of efforts to combat the pandemic [see BBC News 2 April 2020]. The Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute has been playing its part, in partnership with the University, to get the laboratory up and running by donating PCR machines and vital reagents, and several Institute staff members will be volunteering their time and expertise once testing begins in mid-April.
Institute Director, Owen Sansom said: "I couldn't be more pleased for the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute to be helping NHS colleagues in this way, as well as the local community which has been so supportive of the Institute's work over many years. Just as with cancer research, this fight is about everyone working together to make a difference."
UK National Cancer Imaging Translational Accelerator (NCITA) establishes infrastructure for validation and adoption of cancer imaging biomarkers as decision-making tools in clinical trials and NHS practice.
Researchers and medical experts from nine world-leading medical imaging centres across the UK come together to form an integrated infrastructure for standardising and validating cancer imaging biomarkers for clinical use.
The centres include University of Glasgow, University College London, University of Manchester, University of Oxford, King's College London, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Imperial College London, Cambridge University and Newcastle University. This unique UK infrastructure provides clinical researchers across the UK with open access to world-class clinical imaging facilities and expertise, as well a repository data management service, artificial intelligence (AI) tools and ongoing training opportunities.
The NCITA consortium, through engagement with NHS Trusts, pharmaceutical companies, medical imaging and nuclear medicine companies as well as funding bodies and patient groups, aims to develop a robust and sustainable imaging biomarker certification process, to revolutionise the speed and accuracy of cancer diagnosis, tumour classification and patient response to treatment.
Professor Hing Leung, Professor of Urology and Surgical Oncology at the University of Glasgow and CRUK Beatson Institute said "NCITA is a great platform to fast track the application of novel imaging tests in patients. We are delighted to be part of NCITA and are coordinating a prostate cancer imaging study for the network."
The NCITA initiative is funded by Cancer Research UK and will receive up to £10 million over 5 years.
The NCITA network is led by Prof Shonit Punwani, Prof James O'Connor, Prof Eric Aboagye, Prof Geoff Higgins, Prof Evis Sala, Prof Dow Mu Koh, Prof Tony Ng, Prof Hing Leung and Prof Ruth Plummer with up to 49 co-investigators supporting the NCITA initiative. NCITA is keen to expand and bring in new academic and industrial partnerships as it develops.
To study treatment resistance, we carried out serial 18F-FACBC PET/MRI scans before (left panel) and after (right panel) androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) on a preclinical orthograft model with human CWR22 prostate cancer cells. Image by Drs Rachana Patel and Gaurav Malviya, CRUK Beatson Institute.
Message from Professor Owen Sansom, Director of the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, to all of our colleagues and supporters in light of the COVID-19 crisis:
These are difficult and challenging times for everyone and from Monday, 23rd March 2020, the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute will be closed for all but the most essential laboratory work. With the exception of a small core of staff engaged in this essential work, all of our staff and students will be working from home.
By putting these social exclusion measures in place, we hope to minimise the risk to the health of our staff and students, and their families, while also reducing the burden on the external services a building such as ours normally requires. Everyone's safety is our top priority and we will only maintain the most vital aspects of our research so that once this crisis has passed, we will be ready to return to our important work and make the most of the generous support we receive from CRUK and other funders.
We are also doing all we can to provide any additional resources, expertise and personnel we have to assist the NHS in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.
On a personal note, I appreciate all of the efforts that everyone at the Beatson is making and whilst this is an extremely challenging situation, I know we will get through this to resume our fight against cancer.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you any questions about this closure and we will direct your enquiry to the most appropriate staff member.
The Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute hosted the CRUK Activate Challenge Final, together with our partners Converge who run various business challenges open to young entrepreneurs in Scotland. The Activate Challenge is part of an initiative to encourage a culture of entrepreneurship among CRUK's researchers.
The four finalists delivered a 1-minute pitch around their business idea focused on oncology to CRUK's Chief Business Officer for its Commercial Partnerships team, two external judges with biotech experience and the Director of Converge.
The earlier stages of the competition involved the researchers attending a bespoke life science training course in all aspects of research translation and commercialisation, delivered by entrepreneurs in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry; putting together business cases around their ideas that ranged from diagnostic/prognostic applications to new cancer screening technologies and drug delivery systems; and pitch training.
The winner, Peter Repiscak, a Bioinformatician at the Beatson Institute, received a £7K prize and 12 months 'after care' from Converge to help develop his gene-based prognostic test to stratify prostate cancer patients in order to identify those likely to respond to docetaxel-based chemotherapy. Badri Aekbote from the University of Glasgow won the runner-up prize of £3K. Samuel Atkinson and Mark Nakasone, both from the Beatson Institute, were highly commended by all the judges for delivering slick pitches around their ovarian cancer fingerprinting and biotherapeutic drug delivery technologies, respectively.