TRIUMF continues to grow its team of world-class researchers with the addition of Dr. Yann Seimbille.
Yann joins TRIUMF from Switzerland’s Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève, where he served as Head of the Cyclotron unit for nine years. With his team, Yann produced GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) Radiopharmaceuticals for different clinics, coordinated a research program that developed new tracers for oncology, and overlooked a small pre-clinical imaging lab. That left Yann with not enough time to coordinate his own research. It was that desire to actively conduct research that brought him to TRIUMF.
As he settles into his new role at TRIUMF, Yann says his main objective is to write grants and secure funding to create the team necessary to have success in all the projects. He is currently in the process of recruiting three members to join his research team.
When Yann sat down with us, what we wanted to know most is: in your new role as a Research Scientist, what do you and your research group hope to accomplish with the Life Sciences Division?
1. Continue Developing Radiopharmaceuticals for Cancer Imaging
First, we will continue to develop radiopharmaceuticals for cancer imaging. I am working on specific targets that are linked to angiogenesis – a biological process resulting in the formation of new blood capillaries into tumours. Researchers are creating drugs to block angiogenesis, which then allow the tumor die by itself.
What we plan to do is use the same types of targets for imaging purposes and search for new kinds of molecules that can target different receptors involved in angiogenesis. That is our first goal.
2. Answer the Needs of Researchers
Our second aim will be more about methodology. Right now, one of the main limitations in this field is that it is too complicated to label a new molecule. Researchers are not willing to wait 2 or 3 years on their projects to receive all the information that they can get from imaging.
However, nuclear imaging is so advantageous in drug development programs because you can get drug’s efficacy and biodistribution profile in an animal or human being, which cannot be achieved with alternate forms of imaging.
We hope we can solve this issue with new technologies and new chemical reactions, and provide new approaches to answer the need of researchers for labeling their new drugs. Then, nuclear imaging will have a lot more visibility.
3. Utilize Microfluidic Chips to Maximize Efficiency
The last project is technology based; with an emphasis on microfluidic chips – a set of micro-channels etched or molded into a material such as glass or silicon.
At TRIUMF, we currently use large synthesizers to manipulate radioactivity when producing radiopharmaceuticals and we do this in shielded fume hoods. The problem is right now we can only produce very few tracers per synthesizer, and one synthesizer per shielded fume hood. We are very limited by lab space.
So the idea is to think very small. One technology that now exists to make synthesizers smaller is microfluidic. The advantage of microfluidic is that you are using smaller volumes, so the molecules are in such proximity that they will react more efficiently.
This creates processes that are more rapid and all this is done with a very small machine. This would allow you to install 6 or 8 different micro-synthesizers in one single hot cell; this would multiply the number of tracers you can produce for the clinics and hospitals.
Welcome, Yann! We are very excited to see your research unfold at TRIUMF.
By Nic Zdunich