The ACRF Brain Tumour Research Centre, located within the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), was officially opened by the Hon. Stephen Robertson, MP, Queensland Minister for Health in March 2008. The centre was established and funded through the generous assistance of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF).

The centre is the world’s first automated ‘high through-put’ screening facility designed for testing and identifying stem cells derived from human brain tumours. The much-needed $1.14m tumour testing facility complements QBI's advanced imaging and flow cytometry technology.

QBI Director, Professor Perry Bartlett said the facility would help scientists to develop more effective treatments for brain cancer.

“This is the first time researchers will be able to isolate, enumerate and purify tumour stem cells with such high levels of efficiency,” Professor Bartlett said.

“We know brain cancer occurs in about 10 in every 100,000 people in the western world. It’s a disease that presents in patients of all ages and is the second most common tumour type among children and young adults.”

Despite significant advances in treatments, the average life expectancy of patients with aggressive forms of brain cancer is often less than a year.

Resistance to treatment is related to the slow rate of division of the tumour cells, as well as their migratory nature and ability to integrate themselves into normal neural tissue.

Crucially, some adult neural stem cells have similar characteristics to brain cancer cells – which is why QBI neuroscientists are eager to learn more about them.

“There is an emerging view among neuroscientists that cancers in the central nervous system may contain a population of stem cells that may be responsible for tumour initiation and malignancy,” Professor Bartlett said.

“Until now, one of the primary difficulties in studying these stem cells was that scientists lacked the tools to identify and collect them.”

The new screening facility uses a combination of advanced techniques to record molecular changes in neural stem cell assays.

Scientists from QBI, the Institute for Molecular Bioscience and the Queensland Institute for Medical Research – and research clinicians from Brisbane’s leading public hospitals – will all have access to the ACRF Brain Tumour Research Centre.

For more information, please contact:

Australian Cancer Research Foundation  – Tel: +61 2 9223 7833
QBI Communications – Tel: +61 7 3346 0542

Lab infrastructure

ACRF funding has enabled QBI to purchase several specialised scientific instruments, which will form the major infrastructure of the Brain Tumour Research Centre. This includes a Cytopeia Influx cell sorter, an Amnis ImageStream imaging spectrometer, and a Beckman Coulter high-throughput rig.

Detailed information about the function of each of these instruments is available from each manufacturer's website (click on relevant image).

High-throughput screening

Cytopeia Influx cell sorter