Instruments of Discovery

4 Pieces of Equipment Your Pelotonia Dollars Have Purchased

Conducting cutting-edge cancer research is complex and requires sophisticated equipment for ready use by the talented researchers who strive to turn laboratory discoveries into treatments.

That’s where Pelotonia dollars make a big impact. Some of the money raised by riders, virtual riders and donors in this annual bicycle tour is allotted to help purchase the latest instruments and technology to assist the more than 330 researchers at the OSUCCC – James. Here’s a look at four of the instruments purchased during the past few years with Pelotonia funding support.

Helios Mass Cytometer – Pelotonia assisted in the purchase of this instrument, which paved the way for recruiting Gregory Behbehani, MD, PhD, from Stanford University to build a research program in the field of mass cytometry.

“The Helios mass cytometer allows us to look at one cell at a time and use lots of measures to see exactly what type of cell this is, and combine it with measurements of how the cell behaves,” Behbehani says. “When you put these together, you get a complex, rich picture of the cancer, and we can discover how it responds to standard treatment or novel treatment.”

Orbitrap Fusion™ and Quantiva Mass Spectrometers – These instruments aid in the understanding of cancer cell biology. They detect abnormal proteins shed by tumor cells via urine, blood or saliva—proteins that originate in the tumor or the tumor microenvironment. Michael Freitas, PhD, is an analytical chemist who specializes in protein characterization using mass spectrometers. His work depends on the capability of the instruments he uses.

“Sometimes you have very few cells to work with,” Freitas says. “Developments in mass spectrometry are improving the sensitivity of instruments to see less material. They can also look at more proteins in a given time. We get more data and more insight because of Pelotonia.”

The Sciclone NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) Workstation – This robotic device prepares batches of cancer cells for genome sequencing. As opposed to having a technician prepare samples in test tubes with a single pipette, the Sciclone NGS does the pipetting en masse, preparing up to 96 samples at once to create consistency and free up lab personnel for other work. Genome sequencing is vital to determining how cancer hijacks normal cell functions; this device makes that preparation faster and easier.

REES Enterprise Environmental Monitoring System – This system can be regarded as a quiet workhorse of cancer research—technology that works around the clock and, if all goes well, is rarely heard from by the researchers and lab supervisors who rely on it. It may not analyze cells or diagnose cancer, but it does its part for cancer research by monitoring the freezers that store samples of DNA, plasma and serum, which would be useless if they thawed.

The REES system monitors multiple locations, ensuring ongoing monitoring in all situations. Heather Hampel, MS, LGC, director of Biospecimen Services at the OSUCCC – James, and others receive an alert via phone call, text or email if the temperature drops below an acceptable level. This allows them to act quickly to protect the stored samples.

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