Main Menu

How our cancer tech is fighting drug resistance


Our scientists are pioneering research that could help solve the challenge of drug resistance. Cancer is able to resist treatments by evolving over time, and picking up genetic changes that provide immunity to drugs. It is the biggest challenge in cancer research and treatment.

Posted on 31 October, 2017 by Henry French

Our researchers cannot meet this challenge without the latest in cancer technology.

Henry French introduces some of the innovative tech our scientists are using to understand and tackle drug resistance, and to discover the latest drugs that will hit cancer in new ways.

Mass spectrometry

Our new ICR Team Leader Dr Jyoti Choudhary will use a state-of-the-art machine called an Orbitrap Fusion Lumos Tribrid mass spectrometer to take our research on cancer’s communication networks to a new level.

Her laboratory will use mass spectrometry to gain a fuller understanding than ever before of the abundance of signalling proteins used by cancer to drive drug resistance, growth and spread.

The technology charges particle samples and sorts them based on their physical properties and weight.


Our researchers have developed a computer program that can track the trajectory of moving cells better than ever before – and made it available to other scientists.

The program, called NucliTrack, uses machine learning – a form of artificial intelligence – to ‘learn’ how cells normally move around.

It will help us to study biological processes such as signalling and cell division, which are both important elements in cancer development.

Bessel beams

Bessel beams are ‘optical tweezers’ – highly focused laser beams that are being studied for use as tractor beams in other areas of research.

At the ICR, Professor Jon Pines is using them to reveal details in cells that cannot be seen using normal light. This ‘lattice’ microscope is supported by donations to one of our ICR fundraising appeals.

Magnetic resonance imaging

Our ICR researchers use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning technology to make images of cancers – and are also leaders in developing the technology in new ways.

Team Leader Dr Simon Robinson is designing new tests that image some of the properties of living tumours – such as the levels of oxygen deep within cancers, or their volume of blood.

Some of these tests cannot be done yet in the clinic, but in the future they could be used in patients to identify more aggressive cancers, and offer more effective treatments.

Search is our twice-yearly newsletter to supporters. Read our latest news, recent research achievements and interviews with our world-leading scientists and clinicians.

Sign up to Search

Genome sequencing

Scientists in our Tumour Profiling Unit, which sequences cancer genes for our researchers, recently became the first in the UK to gain access to a new kind of next-generation genome sequencing machine – which could revolutionise our research.

The NovaSeq, made by manufacturer Illumina, can decode entire DNA sequences faster than ever before, at a fraction of the previous cost. It uses components called flowcells to sequence up to 96 entire human genomes per week.

comments powered by Disqus