Supporting the NHS
NPL provided services to 52 NHS trusts and cancer centres in 2022. Over 98% of the jobs delivered for these were related to assuring safe and accurate delivery of radiotherapy through access to NPL's radioactivity standards and expertise in calibration.
Leaders and aspiring leaders in healthcare science
Cancer Grand Challenge: Mapping cancer
In its penultimate year the ROSETTA Cancer Grand Challenge consortium, led by NPL's Professor Josephine Bunch, continued to build on previous research identifying phenotypic features of tumours and the localised tumour environment for breast, glioblastoma, colorectal and pancreatic cancers. These insights to tumour metabolism have the potential to deliver new targets for the diagnosis, treatment and understanding prognosis in key cancers. Highlights of the teams work over the past 6 years include:
- Determination of three metabolic sub types of Glioblastoma (GBM), showing territories that are sufficiently large as to be imaging in the clinic using 2H MRI
- Identifying vitamin B5 as a targetable biomarker of increased oxidative metabolism associated with increased MYC gene amplified tumours in breast
- Demonstration of real-time diagnosis of PIK3CA mutant breast tumours using the iKnife technology (Koundouros et al., Cell, 2020)
- Identifying the amino acid transporter SLC7A5 as a new target for both KRAS mutant colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer (Najumudeen et al, Nat. Genetics, 2021) and the methionine cycle as a vulnerability in colorectal cancer (Vande Voorde et al, Nat. Metabolism, 2023)
- Investigating metabolic mechanisms in drug resistance, showing sub-type stratification - including BRAF, HRAS, KRAS, PIK3CA and NRAS mutations
- Innovating new technologies for patient screening, ex vivo analysis and surgical interventions.
The ROSETTA consortium has shown that they can map metabolic networks of tumours and the tumour microenvironment to correlate with underlying genetic alterations. In summary, Rosetta has provided compelling evidence that metabolic imaging can be used to segment and therapeutically target cancer.
Cancer Grand Challenges Rosetta Project
Characterising hydrogels for personalised cancer treatment with PearBio
NPL used scanning electron microscopy and rheology to characterise and provide structural information on PearBio’s novel hydrogels which can be used as cell scaffolds for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The results contributed to an FDA pre-submission towards the accreditation of the PearBio platform and clinical workflow.
“Overall, the projected carried out with NPL helped the advancement of our technology towards our goal and commitment of stopping the spread of cancer." - Gaston Primo- Scientist at PearBio
Read our characterising hydrogels case study
Significantly improving breast cancer outcomes
An innovative ultrasonic detection technique, which will aid earlier diagnosis and treatment of cancer and help manufacturers develop better products, has been demonstrated with the first in-person measurements of breast tissue. In comparison to X-ray mammography, this new technology is less invasive, more comfortable and completely safe as it eliminates risks associated with exposure to ionising radiation.
Read our innovative ultrasonic news story
Awarded for impact in the field of surface analysis
Gustavo Trindade, Senior Research Scientist was awarded the Vickerman Prize by the UK Surface Analysis Forum for his work in the National Centre of Excellence in Mass Spectrometry Imaging and OrbiSIMS metrology which is anticipated to have a major impact in the field of surface analysis.
Read more about our impact in surface analysis
New subcellular imaging to support pharmaceutical innovation
NPL has developed a new NanoSIMS imaging technique to reduce attrition in drug development. This enables drug developers to pinpoint which drugs permeate the blood-brain barrier more efficiently. This will help to speed up the development of more feasible drugs and enable resources to be directed to the most promising candidates, reducing costs and speeding up the process.
Read our NanoSIMS imaging case study