Miss Rachel Matthews

University of Cambridge

University departments
Department of Physics
University institutes
CRUK Cambridge Institute

Position: PhD student
Personal home page:

PubMed journal articles - click here

Research description

Using Nanomagnetic heterostructures for the improved detection and treatment of kidney cancer

Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) affects 13,000 people per year in the UK. Upon identification of renal masses, accurate diagnosis with core biopsy remains challenging due to single-point sampling, which often does not reflect the tumour heterogeneity, leading ultimately to overtreatment (around 30% of post-surgical biopsies reveal a benign tumour).

This project seeks to investigate whether the less invasive technique of Fine Needle Aspirate (FNA) could be used to improve the diagnosis of kidney cancer. FNA uses a needle to extract a small number of cells from multiple tumour sites; this sampling method provides a better capture of the cell populations that constitute the tumour.

This project combines FNA with a new, high-sensitivity assay technique based on nanomagnetic heterostructures. It is predicted that the development of an accurate FNA diagnostic approach would save ~800 patients per year from having unnecessary surgery for benign tumours.

By adhering kidney cancer cells onto the nanomagnetic heterostructures, they can be tested for gene expression using fluorescence antibody staining. As genes such as carbonic anhydrase 9 (CA9) have altered expression levels in cancerous cells compared to healthy cells, the staining intensity can be interpreted as a diagnostic indicator.

Research Programme or Virtual Institute
Urological Malignancies Virtual Institute