Green Discovery (2022)
Green Discovery (2022)
At GTAC, we looked at many different aspects of science including mass spectrometry, biology, chemistry, data processing, and metabolomics. Cancer cells can form when mutations, a change in the DNA sequence, occur. Cancer cells feed off ATP (adenosine triphosphate) as an energy source to grow and multiply. In this experiment, we used E.coli, a bacterial cell, as a model for cancerous cells. We used mass spectrometry to analyse the fragmentation of molecules to find a possible drug target and pursue further research for new possible treatments for cancer.
We began our investigation of bacterial metabolism as a model for cancer cells by receiving an overview of the project and viewing some of the technology we would use. We also completed a tour of the GTAC building, in order to familiarise ourselves with the space. The practicals for the day included setting up a bacterial culture broth. In which, yeast and tryptone were put into two jars, with adenosine in one jar, which could be used as energy sources for cancer cells, and glucose in the other, as a control. E-Coli was added to both mixtures then stored at 37 degrees overnight for the bacteria to grow.
To end, we also completed bacterial microscopy, which had us observe E-Coli and staphylococcus epidermidis under a microscope. We observed that they were of very different shapes, grain-like and round, respectively. Some were also seen moving.
On Tuesday, we looked further into metabolism by creating molecular models and looking into the background of metabolomics. Metabolism is all the biochemical reactions that occur in the bacterial cell. After morning tea, we then went on to harvest E.coli off of agar plates using loops and used them to extract metabolites. We put the bacterial samples that we created yesterday combined with the E.coli in a centrifuge to separate the components of the bacteria and the liquid. The mixture was then freeze-thawed and sent off to Bio21.
Then after lunch, we explored and analysed mass spectra in different molecular compounds. Mass spectrometry is used to analyse the mass of the fragmentation, which is the name for molecules which are removed from a compound when a hydrogen atom is thrown at it, their intensity and how often they occur in a molecule.
On our third day, we went to Bio21 and explored mass spectrometry, protein synthesis, LCMS, an NMR cave, and a basement where cancer and protein research is conducted. We learnt a lot from the scientists and researchers there and had a great time learning about the different machines.
In the afternoon, we looked at a zebra-fish retina under a microscope, as there are many veins which flow through to and from the eyes. We had two samples, one of which was treated with medication, and the other which was not. We then compared the difference in both of them, and took pictures of them under a microscope.
After lunch, we studied the structure of proteins, using foam tubes to create models of enzymes and how they form like alpha helix and beta pleated sheets and also how they join together.
On our fourth day, we analysed the data from chromatographs of bacterial samples. We compared the difference between the glucose control groups and the experimental group, adenosine. That data was used to explore metabolic pathways where we can discover potential drug targets to help treat cancer. This was done by analysing the spectra of both our bacterial samples, then finding their common name through databases, such as Kegg and the Human Metabolome Database. Through this process we found the molecule “S-Malate”, then explored its metabolic pathways to find a potential drug target which could help treat cancer. The enzyme found was Fumarate Hydratase, targeting this enzyme with a drug could prevent the production of S-Malate, and could be extremely beneficial in future cancer treatment.
On our final day at GTAC, we finished our blog and presented our research.
Nabeeha - My time at GTAC’s SIRE program was a great opportunity to learn about the scientific research industry and the myriad of opportunities science presents. Before the program began I did not know much about metabolomics or about its assistance in cancer research, so investigating and learning about it was an extremely gainful experience. I especially liked doing the practicals, as I was given access to materials I had never worked with before, as well as procedures that were new to me. Overall, This experience has been a rewarding one, as I've conjured a newfound sense of excitement in myself, for my future studies in science.
Georgia - Working at GTAC was a great experience and I really enjoyed this opportunity. I’m currently doing VCE biology and the SIRE program has helped me gain a better understanding of science. I have learnt many new skills and made some new friends. My favourite part of the program was going to Bio21 and watching the staff/researchers doing their job. Overall, this had been an amazing experience and would definitely recommend participating in the program.
Jecka - My experience at GTAC was a great opportunity to learn more about the research field. I was glad I was a part of the program because it gave me the chance to meet scientists and like-minded peers which was a great learning experience. The program allowed me to learn about new concepts such as metabolics and mass spectrometry. It also gave me an insight on how working as a researcher, which is a career pathway I might consider in the future.
Kevin - I had an amazing experience at GTAC and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to study and work here for the week. The SIRE program allowed me to learn so much from other scientists and I found their mindsets when it came to research and experiments to be extremely inspiring and I wish to adopt some parts of the way they think when it comes to science in my future.
Lana - I really enjoyed GTAC. I found it was a great learning experience and I got to meet lots of new people. I learnt lots more about cells and atoms and how they interact with each other and in the presence of different drugs, throughout the week I got to interact with many people I had never even seen before and it was super fun.
Jerry - The work experience program at GTAC was a fantastic time that allowed me to deepen my understanding of biology. It was an insightful experience to future careers that I am interested in and could possibly pursue such as learning about proteins.