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Acadia Chemist Wins Grant To Study Cancer Drugs At Cellular Level

A chemist at Acadia University will soon be able to observe how a drug enters and activates within a living cell using a new piece of recording equipment.

Sherri McFarland will use the equipment to visually capture the inner workings of the cells in the fight against cancer.

“I’ve waited quite a few years to be able to buy this piece of instrumentation,” she said. “[We can] essentially make molecular movies of the compound — our drugs interacting with the cells that we want to destroy.”

McFarland and her research team will record a light-activated drug entering the cell, and observe how it moves around inside it until it is eventually spit out.

“We can make better light activatable, anti-cancer drugs by knowing the way in which those drugs interact with the cell over time,” she said.

McFarland is one of 75 researchers in Nova Scotia who has won a grant — at close to $150,000 — from the Natural Science and Research Council of Canada.