Researchers at the DIT Radiation and Environmental Science Centre (RESC), under the leadership of Professor Fiona Lyng, may be on the cusp of a major breakthrough in cervical pre-cancer diagnosis.
The team at RESC has been developing a novel technology for cervical cancer screening based on Raman spectroscopy for a number of years. Now, they are carrying out a clinical utility study of 1,000 patient samples to establish the accuracy of the new testing method.
“To our knowledge, this is the largest patient study using this type of spectroscopic assay in the world,” explains Fiona. “Previously, people have only looked at up to 100 patient samples. Raman spectroscopy is a powerful tool that uses light to generate a biochemical fingerprint of cells. We are currently building a large database from the 1,000 samples, so that we can map out the biochemical fingerprint of cells at different stages of cervical pre-cancer.”
Fiona was appointed as the Centre Manager of RESC in 2003. Her relationship with DIT stretches back to her undergraduate years when she studied Physics in DIT Kevin Street. There, she was mentored by Dr Carmel Mothersill, a trailblazer in the area of radiation biology, who inspired her to apply her physics knowledge to make an impact in human health. A prolific researcher, having published over 100 research papers and supervised 26 PhD students to completion, Fiona was awarded a Professorship by DIT in 2012 and the ‘One to Watch’ Award in 2011 by Enterprise Ireland, who previously funded the project for five years.