Technology Platforms: from Molecule-2-Man
The unique research setting of the NCMLS - access to an extensive knowledge infrastructure all within walking distance - allows NCMLS to integrate diverse expertise in the medical domain with the ultimate goal of understanding the molecular mechanisms of diseases. Through this multidisciplinary approach, novel diagnostic tools and treatment strategies are being developed.
State-of-the-art research facilities available to NCMLS researchers include bioinformatics, proteomics, genomics, translational (e.g. clean rooms for cellular therapy), microscopy and animal research facilities. The facilities offer expert advice and assistance in solving research questions. Crucial for many NCMLS researchers is the Microscopical Imaging Centre (MIC) which is a state-of-the-art multi-user microscopy core with particular expertise in live-cell microscopy and electron microscopy.
Research facilities available to members of NCMLS may be grouped in the following categories:
Animal models: Animal models are of great importance to molecular life scientists for biomedical research. The NCMLS has excellent links to the Central Animal Facility (CDL) for expert advice and access to facilities for animal testing. NCMLS has several disease-related models available, for example arthritis, cancer, kidney disease, tissue engineering, heart transplantation, neural disorders, metabolic disorders, osteoporosis, haematopoiesis, fungal and bacterial septicaemia and malaria (P. falciparum).
Biobank: In 2012 the Radboud Biobank was launched within RUMC with the aim of creating an infrastructure for the collection, storage and delivery of biomaterial and associated clinical data. The String of Pearls Institute (PSI) standards were used for this purpose. It is expected that this infrastructure will facilitate biomedical research enormously, and will ultimately result in better care and better health for patients. With the continuation of existing collections and the creation of new collections, the Radboud Biobank establishes a professional and sustainable collation of a wide variety of biomaterials obtained from well characterized patient groups.
Bioinformatics: The CMBI is the Dutch national centre for computational molecular sciences and is housed on the groundfloor of the NCMLS research tower. The institute pursues a rigorous research programme with topics ranging from computational small-molecule chemistry to protein function prediction and the complete metabolism of a cell. The Centre's facilities, databases and software packages are available to external scientists and there is a helpdesk for scientists who use the service facility. Currently, the CMBI is primarily involved in bioinformatics research and in maintaining a data and software infrastructure to help scientists improve bioinformatics and/or computational small-molecule research.
Genomics: DNA sequencing as well as micro-array technology for gene expression profiling are rapidly becoming standard everyday laboratory tools. The Microarray Facility Nijmegen is one of the core facilities of the RUNMC. The Department of Human Genetics also harbours a sequencing facility and a genotyping facility. The facility is focusing on multiple applications such as expression profiling, genomic copy number profiling (array CGH) and high density SNP profiling. Next-generation Genome Sequencers (Roche 454 FLX Titanium and Solexa) are operational in the Departments of Human Genetics and of Molecular Biology.
Glycobiology: The Nijmegen Glycobiology Platform (NGP) covers a diverse range of glycobiological research from chemistry, biology to genetics and patient care. The NGP serves as a platform to facilitate access to relevant research infrastructure and knowledge with a focus on human pathology.
Molecular imaging: Imaging at the (sub)cellular level is an essential tool for molecular life scientists. The Microscopic Imaging Centre (MIC) at the NCMLS is a state-of-the-art facility for imaging of biological specimens utilizing light microscopy (bright-field, confocal and fluorescence), conventional scanning and transmission electron microscopy, and sophisticated digital imaging. The facility is available for researchers within and outside the NCMLS. NCMLS also offers access to other techniques such as, Atomic Force Microscopy Flow cytometry, FRET and FRAP.
PRIME: is the Preclinical Imaging Centre of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre. This centre has state-of-the-art equipment for small animal imaging: MRI (7 Tesla, 11.7 Tesla), PET/CT, SPECT/CT, bioluminescence imaging and in vivo multi-photon microscopy.
Proteomics: The growing availability of genomic sequence information, together with improvements of protein characterisation by mass spectrometry, facilitates protein research enormously. To exploit these opportunities the Nijmegen Proteomics Facility (NPF) was established in 2004. The state-of-the-art proteomics facility offers fundamental technological tools in proteomics research and makes them available for academic and industrial researchers, both within and outside the Radboud University Nijmegen and Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre. Equipment available includes 2D-electrophoresis, SELDI-TOF and Mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF, MALDI-LTQ and nano-LC LTQ-FT MS).
Translational research and cellular therapy: A GMP facility with clean rooms is used for translational research e.g. immunotherapeutic cell therapy and stem cell transplantation. In November 1997 the Departments of Tumor Immunology, Medical Oncology and Haematology collectively initiated the application of dendritic cell-based anti-cancer vaccines in melanoma patients. To date, more than 250 patients have been treated with this experimental form of therapy.