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Genome BC to Invest in Robotics-Based Cancer Research Project

Genome BC is investing in a cancer research project that aims to speed up genetic tests of tumours through the development of a robotics system.

Genomic testing of cancerous tumours enables better, more informed treatment for many of BC's cancer patients. Analysis of a patient's tumour, specifically the study of its molecular composition, offers more insight into how it will progress and respond to drug therapies.

Dr. Robin Coope, Instrumentation Group Leader at the BC Cancer Agency's Genome Sciences Centre, is leading a team to develop the system that will automate the "coring" of tumour samples based on identified targets. The system will then extract DNA and RNA from these cores, add DNA barcodes for tracking and perform sample preparation prior to sequencing.

"Processing these samples for analysis involves the extraction of DNA and RNA and we are working to develop a better, faster system," says Dr. Aly Karsan, Medical Director at the BC Cancer Agency's Centre for Clinical Genomics. "This new process will better serve BC's population."

"The current manual process of identifying and sourcing samples can have some variation and we want to achieve high volume, automated molecular testing," says Dr. Dirk Van Niekerk, Cervical Cancer Screening Program Medical Leader at the BC Cancer Agency. "Automation will revolutionize the process by significantly decreasing the turnaround time, streamlining downstream activities and improving reproducibility and accuracy."

"This investment showcases the best in BC when it comes to the application of genomics technology to cancer," says Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President, Sectors at Genome BC. "The team is leveraging clinical experience and laboratory automation to further enable the implementation of cutting-edge technology to improve patient outcomes."

This project is valued at approximately $200,000 and was funded equally by Genome BC and Provincial Health Services Authority.

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