UWA student Clare Tancabel hoping to make brain cancer surgery easier


Clare Tancabel (Jandakot). Picture: Will Russell d453020
Clare Tancabel (Jandakot). Picture: Will Russell d453020

LIKENED to removing a spider-shaped object from a bowl of jelly without damaging the jelly, brain cancer surgery is no simple task.

A Jandakot resident is among a team of cancer researchers hoping to make the delicate surgery easier.

Clare Tancabel, a second-year medical student and engineering graduate at UWA, is researching a new method of removing cancers using fluorescent dyes and needle probes.

“Our project is centred on making brain tumours glow so that a surgeon can more accurately remove it,” she said.

“It can also help surgeons and pathologists to classify tumours on the spot which is useful because treatments vary according to tumour type.”

More than 1600 Australians are diagnosed with brain cancer each year; 200 are from WA.

Ms Tancabel, working with research groups in Canada, USA, Perth and Adelaide, was excited about the path the project was taking and what it could mean for those with the disease.

“This is the first of this kind of work being performed in Australia and although it is early stage research it is exciting because there are real-word applications of this research in surgery and diagnosing brain tumours,” she said.

“The research group at UWA is unique in that they specialise in the miniaturisation of optical hardware into needles, allowing us to take the fluorescence technology in unique direction.”

Ms Tancabel received a $3000 James Crofts Hope Student research scholarship from Cancer Council WA.

The grant was part of a record $4 million in research funding by the not for profit.

Chief executive Susan Rooney urged people to support the Cancer Council.