Melanoma Institute Australia

Melanoma remains a major health issue in Australia – claiming one life every five hours. To achieve its mission, Zero Deaths from Melanoma, Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) provides world-class care to melanoma patients, underpinned by internationally-recognised research.

A not-for-profit entity, MIA relies on philanthropy for essential equipment/technology. We are very grateful to James N. Kirby Foundation for funding the purchase of 200 Slide Loader, an integral addition to Vectra3.

At the cutting edge of treatment for melanoma and cancer generally, Vectra3, a spectral microscope/imaging software system, scans and quantifies multiple protein expressions in melanoma tissue. It represents the next-generation in pathology diagnostics.

Not being able to afford 200 Slide Loader when we purchased Vectra3, we could not fully utilise Vectra3’s capacity. Slides had to be loaded manually (a complicated, exacting task) and only 10 slides could be processed daily, thus greatly limiting the number of MIA’s research projects Vectra3 supported. Due to James N. Kirby’s generosity however, we can now load 200 slides at once, dramatically reducing the time needed to analyse patient tumours from months to days. In high demand across all research projects, Vectra3 runs at full capacity for 150 hours/week, in contrast to 35 hours/week previously. Because early diagnosis is critical in melanoma (as in all cancer) treatment, it is no exaggeration to say that 200 Slide Loader is helping save lives.

200 Slide Loader is a robotic arm that automatically inserts/removes pathology slides containing thin biopsy tissue sections, allowing Vectra3 to photograph tumours for classification. Being able to study every cell within a patient’s tumour to understand how melanoma cells are communicating with surrounding immune cells allows researchers to develop new anti-cancer immunotherapies as well as better predict and monitor a patient’s response to these drugs. This would not be possible without James N. Kirby Foundation’s generosity.

Dr James Wilmott
Research Leader, Melanoma Pathology
Translational Research Group