New equipment can help detect disease earlier

Doctors at Health Sciences North in Sudbury are getting some help in making a diagnosis from a new machine that can detect genetic diseases using DNA from people.

Sudbury hospital receives equipment to help diagnose and treat diseases sooner

The ION Torrent Personal Genome Machine will be used extensively by Dr. Rebecca McClure, a pathologist and expert in DNA analysis recently recruited to Sudbury’s hospital from the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The new techology will also allow McClure to pursue the development of a program of personalized medicine to develop customized diagnoses and treatment plans for each patient, based on their individual DNA. Personalized medicine leads to more effective and timely treatments, improved outcomes, and fewer side effects, at less cost, a hospital press release stated. Pictured from left to right are: Mark Hartman(Interim Chief Operating Officer, AMRIC), Dr. Denis Roy (President and CEO, HSN), Angela Corsi-Raso (Angels In Pink), Annette Cressy (Angels In Pink), Bev Brisco (Angels In Pink), Dr. Rebecca McClure, Tannys Laughren (Executive Director, Northern Cancer Foundation). (Supplied )

Doctors at Health Sciences North in Sudbury are getting some help in making a diagnosis from a new machine that can detect genetic diseases using people’s DNA.

The hospital has had the ability to test a person's DNA for years, but pathologist Dr. Rebecca McClure said that process took days, cost thousands of dollars and scanning the DNA had to be completed in multiple labs.

"[It] really wasn't practical for looking at very much of the DNA at a time," she said, adding the new machine, known as the ION Torrent Personal Genome Machine, will eliminate these barriers.

"Now we can go in and sequence huge amounts and really see what's going on. The application for this type of sequencing is unlimited."

The machine will also help in the detection of cancer — a prospect that excites Tannys Laughren, who is with the Northern Cancer Foundation.

"The survival rates go up the earlier cancer is detected," she said.

It was the Northern Cancer Foundation that bought the machine for $120,000 — and a group of volunteers under the banner of "Angels In Pink" have promised to fundraise to pay the foundation back.

Angels in Pink have already raised funds to buy equipment that helps with the early diagnosis of breast cancer in Sudbury.