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General Surgery

Tissue culture hood

Dr Vivian McAlister is a principal investigator in the General Surgery Experimental Laboratory, known as GSEL. Located on the 8th floor of University Hospital close to the patient care areas, the goal of GSEL is to conduct basic science research in support of the surgical care of our patients. For example the location permits GSEL to retrieve fresh tissue removed at operations in a way that allows sensitive experiments be completed.

Current projects:

We are investigating the role of ketoconazole in enhancing the anticancer effect of imatinib (Gleevec). Gleevec is a powerful drug against gastrointestinal stromal tumour. Unfortunately, the tumour eventually become resistant to the drug. We have found pathways by which ketoconazole, a commonly used antifungal medication, might break that resistance.

We are growing tiny samples of cancers removed from our patients in 3-D culture to determine the tumour's sensitivity to anticancer (chemotherapeutic) drugs.

Investigators: V. McAlister, P. Costello, R. Tirrona, B. Shrum

We are refining the methodology for growing pancreatic cancer in vitro.  Using 3-D culture technology we are producing micro-tumours that continue to grow and maintain the micro and macro structure of the original tumour.  This culture method allows us to perform many experiments on the same tumour, including drug sensitivity, drug transporter expression, and contrast agent uptake.

Using this system we are exploring the possibility of labeling pancreatic cancer with magnetic resonance contrast agents and determining if this can be used clinically for detection and diagnosis.

Investigators: V. McAlister, P. Costello, R. Tirrona, B. Shrum, U. Schwarz, A. Istl.