Analysis of cell proliferation rates using heavy water labelling
I am working on improving cell proliferation rate measurements using heavy water labelling and mass spectrometry (co-supervised by Dr. Robert Busch). Many of the methods currently used to measure cell proliferation rates suffer from a major limitation; they are not suitable for direct use in patients due to the harmful effects of the labels used. To overcome this, we use a stable isotope technique involving the incorporation of 2H2O (heavy water) into the genomic DNA of dividing cells followed by label detection using mass spectrometry. However, this method is approaching a sensitivity limit which we intend to surmount by carrying out single cell analysis. This will be achieved by designing and fabricating a lab-on-chip device to enable multiplexed analysis of DNA from cells. This work is funded by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs). In line with the principles embodied by the NC3Rs, this method will lead to the refinement, reduction and replacement of animal model use in various research scenarios. Notably, the method has utility in the fields of immunology and oncology.