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Research within the SOMOPRO project is going to be finished

Mass spectrometry, electrochemistry or labelled nanoparticles. All these methods are used by Ing. Lucie Pompeiano Vaníčková, Ph.D., a researcher at the Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry, in her research.

Výzkum v rámci projektu SOMOPRO spěje ke zdárnému konci

The result of her project, entitled Metallothionein as a Prognostic Marker of Skin Cancer, should result in the spatial imaging of this protein in tumour tissue. It should contribute to a better understanding of the processes leading to carcinogenesis. “We are in the second half of the research. We have recently received very positive references from independent evaluators, so we can say that the research is going well beyond expectations, ” Pompeiano Vaníčková said, summarizing the results so far. The final results will be known in May 2020.

Pompeiano Vaníčková could carry out her research within the grant programme SOMOPRO (South Moravian Programme for Distinguished Researchers) co-financed by the South Moravian Region and the European Commission. The programme aims to support top scientists from the Czech Republic and abroad who want to cooperate with South Moravian research institutions on projects in the field of technical, medical and natural sciences for 1 to 3 years. It was Lucie Pompeiano Vaníčková who became one of the 18 scientists who were supported in the 5th and 6th call of the programme.

The indisputable advantage of the entire project is its multidisciplinary nature. “I am improving my method in mass spectrometry and, at the same time, I’m passing my knowhow to other colleagues. From them, I gain practical experience with electrochemistry or nanoparticles. This exchange of knowledge is essential; the whole team is developing and improving its level of knowledge,” explains Pompeiano Vaníčková. In addition, she is collaborating in her research with the institutes of the Academy of Sciences, Masaryk University and the University of Debrecen. Interestingly, she applied her multidisciplinary approach to a model of swine melanoma that is close to the human model.

Before returning to Brno, Pompeiano Vaníčková worked at the Max Planck Institute in Germany as well as three years in Brazil. Here she shared her expertise in mass spectrometry with Brazilian colleagues as part of a national science and research project. “Specifically, I focused on its application to the identification of various substances for biological pest control in agriculture,” outlines the scientist.

Why did she start researching cancer in Brno? “I have always been attracted to clinical applications that directly address a specific problem. I was also attracted by the idea that I could help people, which is very fulfilling and motivating for me. Therefore, my current project was a unique opportunity to combine mass spectrometry and cancer research,” explains Pompeiano Vaníčková.

Some time ago, she had to interrupt her research for a few months. However, this happened for an understandable reason – she was on maternity leave. Before leaving, she was worried about whether she could subsequently combine parental responsibilities with the demands of research. But after half a year she was back and could continue, which, as she admits, is not customary in practice. “The institute is very family-friendly, or mother-friendly. Although it is often demanding on time and logistically, the institute is helpful. Aside from having a great husband, my thanks go to Professor Adam and Professor Vaculovičová for their enlightened approach,” said Pompeiano Vaníčková.

Upon completion of the current project, she would like to continue and develop research that has already started. “Ideally, I would like to create a small research group within the Institute, to be more profiled in clinical applications and mass spectrometry, because I see great potential in this,” concludes the scientist.