Cancer research lab in Membertou welcomes new equipment

SYDNEY A typical day for Dr. Alex Wawer will find him carefully tracking colourful movements across a computer screen in a small lab in Membertou.

Greg McNeil - Cape Breton Post

From left, Dr. William Harless, Dr. Alex Wawer and Beth Lewis demonstrate the flow citometer at the Encyt Technologies lab in Membertou.

Though the movements of cells as they make their way through the human body might not be of interest to the average person, to the staff at Encyt Technologies it's a fascinating method of differentiating between circulating cancer stem cells and non-cancer stem cells.

"Those are essentially the cells we think are cancer cells, compared to all the other cells of different colours," the research scientist said while pointing at the computer screen.

"Tumour cells would stain these particular (green) ones, compared to the red ones which are probably more like white blood cells."

The resulting implications of such tracking measures could lead to ground-breaking cancer treatment discoveries.

"It's important because stem cells are like the master cells, they are the ones that do everything," said Dr. William Harless, CEO of Encyt Technologies Inc.

"If we can find a way to figure out when they are in the blood, it will help us."

Tracking is more efficient after his lab received it's new flow citometer this week, which was funded by the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation.

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Cancer research lab in Membertou welcomes new equipment

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