The NIH project aims to determine how reproducible high-throughput screening is. All of the laboratories involved will run the same protocols and results will be compared. Other current projects include; characterising drugs previously found to be effective against zika virus replication, preparing to test drugs against a model of breast cancer, and preparing to conduct some high throughput studies on a model relevant to lupus.
CeSSA is a unique research facility on level 4 of Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer building that has specialised equipment enabling a high number of cell-culture based models of human disease to be performed very quickly. For example, thousands of different drug treatments or thousands of single gene changes within the cells being studied can be tested. This is called high-throughput screening. The service is available to any medical researcher and Cell Screen SA collaborates with groups from every South Australian academic institute.
Dr Amanda Aloia tells us “we have the great enjoyment and challenge of working across multiple research areas, including cancer, virology and immunology. One type of project we commonly work on is to test known drugs on new models of human disease. Drugs which can treat one disease may actually be capable of treating another also – this is called “drug repurposing” and, since the drugs have already been clinically-approved and/or have a known mechanism of action, it may provide a faster path from the laboratory to the clinic. One example of this is a project in which we tested approximately 3000 known drugs on a special model of acute lympoblastic leukemia (ALL). This project used cells with the same specific genetic modification that is found in patients with high-risk ALL. This type of ALL has a low survival rate and a greater risk of relapse. Our collaborators are currently characterising the drugs we found that reduced the growth of these ALL-type cells.”