NanoMslide team wins prestigious Victoria Prize

The research team behind a high-tech microscope slide that promises to revolutionize medical imaging has won the 2022 Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation in Physical Sciences.

La Trobe University’s Professor Brian Abbey, Deputy Director of the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science (LIMS) and Professor of Physics, has jointly won the award with collaborator Associate Professor Belinda Parker of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

“This is an incredible way to end what has been a huge year for the NanoMslide team,” said Professor Abbey.

Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Susan Dodds said the prize was further recognition of the ground-breaking nature of NanoMslide.

“Professor Abbey and his team have managed to reinvent and elevate a microscope slide into a tool that can be used to detect the earliest stages of breast cancer without the need for specialist equipment,” Professor Dodds said.

“Consequently, NanoMslide has the potential for real world impact and will improve the health outcomes for many in the near future.

“This technology has wide-ranging applications and is a great example of how teamwork and ongoing research effort can achieve genuine innovation and move science forwards,” Professor Dodds said.

Professor Abbey and Associate Professor Parker have worked together for the last six years to translate the NanoMslide into an easy-to-use cancer diagnostic tool which can be used on any optical microscope.

The technology was developed in partnership with fellow team member and co-inventor Dr Eugeniu Balaur using open access equipment and expertise made available by Melbourne Centre of Nanofabrication, part of the Australian National Fabrication Facility network.

The NanoMslide removes the need for chemical treatment of tissue samples, with healthy cells and cancerous cells appearing as different colours when viewed under the microscope.

“The modified surface of the slide causes light to interact differently with cancer tissue compared to healthy tissue, resulting in a striking colour contrast, making even the earliest signs of cancer cells potentially easier to detect,” Professor Abbey said.

Whilst trials conducted to date have focused on the detection of breast cancer cells, the clinical applications for NanoMslide are wide ranging, with lung, melanoma and colon cancer being possible targets for future diagnostic applications.

The technology has the potential to be used across multiple industries where precise detection of specific chemicals is required.

The NanoMslide team were also awarded the 2022 Eureka Prize in the Innovative Use of Technology category.

About the Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation in Physical Sciences

The Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation is supported by the Victorian State Government and celebrates leadership, determination, and creativity. It also highlights the many ways in which research and development of international significance are conducted in Victoria.

Each prize is worth $25,000 and is awarded to a Victorian Scientist, Innovator, Entrepreneur and Researcher in the Life Sciences, and in the Physical Sciences.

These prestigious prizes are for a scientific discovery or technological innovation, or a series of such achievements that significantly advances knowledge. The clear potential to produce a commercial outcome or other substantial benefit to the community is highly regarded.

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