Yesterday afternoon the Porter Lab welcomed members of the Brain Tumour Survivors Group to the lab. The members were treated to an exciting presentation by Dr. Lisa Porter detailing a brief history of cancer and how Porter Lab is working to advance the frontier of cancer treatment – from basic research to the development of revolutionary techniques of personalized medicine. It is well known that many cancers may not respond as desired to many of today’s common treatments. Likewise, some cancers may appear to be eliminated only to reoccur at a later date. By examining each person’s cancer individually, Lisa explains, we can better assess how their cancer will react to certain drugs. Subsets of cancerous cells may remain (possibly undetected) while the majority are eliminated by chemotherapy. Providing a more comprehensive assessment of a patient’s cancer, the methods being developed in Porter Lab give doctors more tools and direction to improve patient prognosis and reduce the possibility for reoccurance.
Following the presentation, the Survivours Group members were given a tour of the Porter Lab facilities and had the opportunity to experience some of the ins and outs of basic research. Most of all, the members were particularly impressed by the flow cytometry and cell sorting instruments and how they can be used to isolate single cells from a suspension and sort them according to specific characteristics determined by the researcher. Additionally, the tour provided insight into some basic biotechnology (such as western blots) and the zebrafish model being developed. “It’s almost unimaginable that we can develop this technology and have so many people dedicate their lives to cancer research but we still do not have a cure!” one member was heard saying, highlighting the complexities of cancer’s biology and biochemistry.
Opening up the lab and getting the community involved is believed to be one of the most effective ways of conveying just how important research and development is to everyone. It gives patients and those afflicted a better understanding of what is being done to help them, especially when it seems like there has not been much major progress in cancer research to many people. Some of the Brain Tumour Survivors Group members noted that, before the visit, they were not aware of just how much has been done and one expressed how important it was that we all work together as a community towards a better understanding of cancer for researchers and patients alike.
Porter Lab also enjoys the opportunity to open up to the community and we are honoured to have the Brain Tumour Survivors Group members in the lab! None of this would have been possible without them as they, and the greater community, all give us the determination to come back to lab in the morning (even to do western blots) and continue with our research.
Thank you Brain Tumour Survivors Group Members for taking an interest in us and visiting Porter Lab, it was an honour!