A Vancouver Island University chemistry professor has received a $125,000 grant to help fund development of mass spectrometry technology that could lead to discoveries of new treatment options for cancer.
VIU, in a press release this week, announced that Kyle Duncan is a recipient of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada discovery grant.
Duncan is building custom mass spectrometry imaging technology to help get a more accurate picture of metabolites – small molecules that control the metabolism of our cells – in tissue. Changes in the presence or number of certain metabolites in specific regions of tissue can result in disorders or be a sign of serious and chronic diseases such as diabetes or cancer, the release noted.
Current methods to examine tissue metabolites require cutting out specific regions for analysis by a mass spectrometer, but this means information from the adjacent cells is lost. Duncan’s method images metabolites in tissue directly for a more accurate and detailed picture. He is currently collaborating with other researchers to help understand how metabolites are distributed in healthy and cancerous tissue to discover potential treatment options to disrupt cancer growth and progression.
“Our body’s metabolic processes are highly dynamic and can compensate or react to changing conditions at the molecular level, creating a moving puzzle with many intricate pieces,” Duncan said in the release. “The fundamental research enabled by this grant allows me to pursue my passion – exploring this boundary between chemistry and biology.”
In addition to the $125,000 discovery grant over five years, Duncan also received a $12,500 discovery launch supplement, a grant for early career researchers, from the research council.