Cellular genomics is the study of the genetic makeup of cells and is a revolutionary technology that’s transforming biological and medical research. Cutting-edge technologies make it possible to unlock how cells work individually, and how they function together, in ways that were impossible only a few years ago.

In recent years there has been significant advancements in the understanding of cancer through improved technologies. However, challenges still existed in designing an approach powerful enough to profile complex systems such as those seen in blood cancer patients.

Until recently, it was not possible to accurately identify cancer-causing cells in a tumour or understand their effects on the ‘fitness’ of a cell. The Garvan-Weizmann Centre of Cellular Genomics has now developed methods to identify these cancer-causing cells.

Led by Associate Professor Joseph Powell, Garvan scientists have developed methods to profile and identify patient cancer cells using the latest technologies. In patients, this method will enable scientists to identify which cells will respond to different treatment options and explore how new immunotherapies can be designed to reprogram immune cells.

Using this information, the aim of the program is to support the development of new drugs that are cancer-cell specific, and to create strategies to help identify a cancer patient’s cell types. This information can then inform the best treatment option in the push toward personalised medicine.

The study will take place at the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics in collaboration with Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science and clinicians from across Sydney. From here, the research project will expand to include cancers such as gastrointestinal interstitial tract, lung, breast and brain.

Vodafone and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have partnered to create DreamLab, an app that enables anyone to be a ‘Citizen Scientist’ by donating their data to help solve cancer problems.

While DreamLab does not directly support Associate Professor Powell’s single cell genomics work, it does use innovative technology to speed up the research process at Garvan and abroad, across a range of healthcare priorities like cancer.

Although separate initiatives, these two projects are great examples of the power of technology, and how medical research is rapidly changing through the technology available to researchers and citizen scientists. It’s also an amazing demonstration of how technology is changing the way in which we understand and engage with science.

Terms and conditions

Terms and Conditions. 1: A compatible handset is required. Downloading DreamLab will consume data. Once downloaded, DreamLab can be used when your device (i) is connected to a charging source and (ii) has mobile network or WiFi connectivity. Mobile data to use DreamLab is free for Vodafone Australia customers on the Vodafone Australia network. Roaming incurs international rates.

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Alyssa Jones

Head of Vodafone Foundation

Alyssa Jones,
Head of Vodafone Foundation

Alyssa works at the intersection of medicine and mobile technology. Partnering with the Garvan Institute, Hello Sunday Morning, and Baker IDI, Alyssa provides tech solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians.