Podcast: Artificial blood vessel visualizes cancer cell journey

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology are visualizing many of the steps involved in how cancer cells break free from tumors and travel through the blood stream, potentially on their way to distant organs.  Using an artificial blood vessel developed in the laboratory of Peter Searson, INBT director and professor of materials science and engineering, scientists are looking more closely into the complex journey of the cancer cell.

Figure 1. 3D projection of a confocal z-stack shows human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) forming a functional vessel immunofluorescently stained for PECAM-1 (green) and nuclei (blue).

Figure 1. 3D projection of a confocal z-stack shows human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) forming a functional vessel immunofluorescently stained for PECAM-1 (green) and nuclei (blue). (Wong/Searson Lab)

INBT’s science writer, Mary Spiro, interviewed device developer Andrew Wong, a doctoral student Searson’s  lab, for the NanoByte Podcast. Wong is an INBT training grant student. Listen to NANOBYTE #101 at this link.

Wong describes the transparent device, which is made up of a cylindrical channel lined with human endothelial cells and housed within a gel made of collagen, the body’s structural protein that supports living tissues. A small clump of metastatic breast cancer cells is seeded in the gel near the vessel while a nutrient rich fluid was pumped through the channel to simulate blood flow. By adding fluorescent tags the breast cancer cells, the researchers were able to track the cells’ paths over multiple days under a microscope.

VIDEO: Watch how a cancer cell approaches the artificial blood vessel, balls up and then forces its way through the endothelial cells and into the streaming fluids within the channel of the device. (Video by Searson Lab)

The lab-made device allows researchers to visualize how “a single cancer cell degrades the matrix and creates a tunnel that allows it to travel to the vessel wall,” says Wong. “The cell then balls up, and after a few days, exerts a force that disrupts the endothelial cells. It is then swept away by the flow. “

Wong said his next goal will be to use the artificial blood vessel to investigate different cancer treatment strategies, such as chemotherapeutic drugs, to find ways to improve the targeting of drug-resistant tumors.

Results of their experiments with this device were published in the journal Cancer Research in September.

Andrew Wong (left) and Peter Searson. (Photo by Will Kirk/Homewood Photography)

Andrew Wong (left) and Peter Searson. (Photo by Will Kirk/Homewood Photography)

Check out this gallery of images from the Searson Lab. The captions are as follows:
Figure 1. 3D projection of a confocal z-stack shows human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) forming a functional vessel immunofluorescently stained for PECAM-1 (green) and nuclei (blue).
Figure 2. 3D projection of a confocal z-stack shows human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) forming a vessel with dual-labeled MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells on the periphery.
Figure 3. Phase-contrast and fluorescence overlays depicting a functional vessel comprised of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) with dual-labeled MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells on the periphery (green in the nucleus, red in the cytoplasm).

 

 

REU Application Available

Undergraduate students can now apply for the 2013 REU in Nanotechnology for Biology and Engineering. Visit – http://inbt.jhu.edu/education/undergraduate/reu/

INBT Mini Symposium – Oct 24

Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology, Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence and Physical Science-Oncology Center are hosting a mini-symposium highlighting current research in these entities on Wednesday, October 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Clipper Room of Shriver Hall on the Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins University.

Roundup of research by INBT’s summer undergraduate researchers

Eric Do with his mentor Jose Luis Santos in the Herrera-Alonso lab. (Photo by Mary Spiro)

Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology hosted 17 undergraduates from universities nationwide in to conduct research in Hopkins laboratories. Of the total, three students were affiliated with the Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence (CCNE), four were affiliated with the Physical Sciences-Oncology Center (PS-OC), and the remaining 10 were funded in part by the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program. INBT, served as a hub for their academic and social activities.

INBT summer interns conduct 10 weeks of research in a laboratory either on the Homewood or the medical campus of the University. At the end of that time, students have learned how to work in a multidisciplinary team and how to manage a short term research project. They also discover if research is a pathway they want to pursue after earning their bachelor’s degrees. Students also present their work in a university wide poster session.

So what were our summer visitors doing? Here are short summaries of the research conducted by each student.

Amani Alkayyali (Wayne State Univeristy)

Lab: Honggang Cui, Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, REU

Amani tried different concentrations of two different peptide conjugates toward the creation of a self-assembling nano-filament that would remain outside of blood cells yet become part of a hemoglobin-based drug delivery vehicle.

Jacqueline Carozza (Cornell University)

Lab: Denis Wirtz, Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, PS-OC

Jacqueline used high throughput cell phenotyping techniques developed in the Wirtz lab to investigate the physical differences in a variety of cancer cell lines in response to varying concentrations of the cancer drug doxorubicin.

Eric Do (University of Washington, Seattle)

Lab: Margarita Herrera-Alonso, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, REU

Eric worked on developing nanoparticles that could encapsulate semiconducting polymers, which have been shown to have a lower toxicity to cells than quantum dots, for the purpose of developing a safer in vivo fluorescent imaging technology.

Matthew Fong (University of California, Berkeley)

Lab: Honggang Cui, Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, CCNE

Matthew worked on pairing the chemotherapy drug Paclitaxel with a vesicle engineered of a peptide amphiphile to create a 3D nanostructure that would improve the drugs solubility and control the timed release of the drug.

Olivia Hentz, right, with mentor Ellen Benn in the Erlebacher lab. (Photo by Mary Spiro)

Olivia Hentz (Cornell University)

Lab: Jonah Erlebacher, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, REU

Olivia used gold as a template to create hollow polymer nanoparticles in both spherical and rod shapes and examined their ability to transfect gene-silencing RNA into living cells under various conditions.

Michelle LaComb (Rice University)

Lab: Honggang Cui, Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, REU

Michelle studied the self-assembly patterns of folic acid, an essential vitamin to humans, in various solutions. Cancer cells often express a high number of folic acid receptors, so folic acid could play a role in targeted cancer therapies.

Bianca Lascano (Norfolk State University)

Lab: Jordan Green, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, REU

Bianca conducted in vitro tests on a library of poly beta-amino esters for their ability to non-virally transfect a fluorescent reporter gene into a dendritic cell.

Lauren Lee (Cornell University)

Lab: Hai-Quan Mao, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, REU

Lauren tested the migration response of immortalized Schwann cells growing within an engineered hydrogel containing neurotrophic growth factors positioned along a physical and chemical gradient.

Anthony Loder (Rowan State University)

Lab: Xin Chen, Dept. of Biology. REU

Using stem cells from Drosophila, Anthony looked at the differentiation and proliferation and examined how Enhancer of Zeste histone methyl-transferase was involved in regulating the process.

Cassandra “Casie” Loren (Oregon State University)

Lab: Denis Wirtz, Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, PS-OC

Casie used high throughput cell phenotyping techniques developed in the Wirtz lab to examine the physical characteristics of cells growing through various life cycle stages, particularly quiescence or cell inactivity.

Albert Lu (University of California, Berkeley)

Lab: Jeff Wang, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, CCNE

Albert used E. coli to perform limit-of-detection evaluations of a lab-on-a-chip device designed to quickly screen for pathogens in biological samples.

Bria Macklin and her mentor, Sravanti Kusuma. (Photo by Mary Spiro)

Bria Macklin (Howard University)

Lab: Sharon Gerecht, Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, REU

With various growth factors, Bria optimized a collagen-based medium in which to grow endothelial cells.

Daniel McClelland (Bethany College)

Lab: D. Howard Fairbrother, Dept. of Chemistry, REU

Daniel tested the effect of carbon nanotube-polymer composites on the biofilm attachment and viability of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is a common soil and water. The study related to the biodegradation of carbon nanotubes.

Edwin “Charlie” Nusbaum (The Richard Stockton College of New Jewsey)

Lab: Robert Ivkov, Dept. of Radiation Oncology, REU

Hyperthermia, or heating cells above normal body temperatures, could be used in cancer treatment, but heat to surrounding healthy tissues and organs would be detrimental. Charlie showed that copper could be used to calibrate alternating magnetic field hypothermia with magnetic nanoparticles at radiofrequencies.

Josh Porterfield (Cornell University)

Lab: Sharon Gerecht, Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, PS-OC

Josh studied the influence of a transcription factor associated with the formation of blood vessels in breast cancer tumors called HEYL on the patterns of vascularization in extracellular matrix.

Justin Samorajski (University of Dallas)

Lab: Peter Searson, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, CCNE

Using a two-layer microfluidic device, Justin examined the effect of an electrical field gradient on the migration of fibrosarcoma cells in 3D.

Carolyn Zhang (University of California, San Diego)

Lab: Sharon Gerecht/Hai Quan Mao, Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, PS-OC

Constructing a framework from fibrin developed in the Mao lab, Carolyn worked on optimizing a template containing a growth factor gradient upon which endothelial colony forming cells could establish a tubular structure of viable cells.

Story by Mary Spiro

Hopkins to host colloid, surface science symposium

The Johns Hopkins University is hosting the 86th American Chemical Society’s Colloid and Surface Science Symposium in Baltimore, MD on June 10-13, 2012. The meeting includes 13 parallel sessions, a poster session, 28 invited speakers, and 28 session organizers. A new addition to this meeting is the Langmuir Student Awards presentation session with application details given on the conference website.

Abstract submission is now open and the deadline is February 7, 2012. Up-to-date information on the meeting can be found at the website: www.colloids2012.org.

For further details about this meeting please contact the symposium co-organizers Mike Bevan (mabevan@jhu.edu) and Joelle Frechette (jfrechette@jhu.edu). Bevan and Frechette are affiliated faculty members of Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology and members of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Download the symposium flyer here.

International nanobio research opportunity for Hopkins students

Belgium is well known for developing many fine things: chocolate…beer…waffles.

Nanobiotechnology also tops the country’s list of research and development activities. Undergraduate and graduate students at Johns Hopkins University now have the chance to apply for a short-term nanobio research program in Belgium hosted by the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT).

Applications are now being accepted for INBT’s summer 2012 International Research Experience for Students (IRES) program. The application deadline is March 25, 2012. INBT funds several research internships at IMEC, The Inter-University MircroElectronics Centre, in Leuven, Belgium through the IRES program, funded by the National Science Foundation. Students work on collaborative research projects organized between Hopkins faculty and IMEC researchers at IMEC’s world-class microfabrication facility and learn to design, fabricate and test a wide range of biomedical devices. The internships are for 10 to 12 weeks and include travel expenses, accommodations and a stipend.

The IRES program is open to Johns Hopkins undergraduate and graduate students who are science or engineering majors and have at least one year of research experience. Graduate students should have additional relevant research experience. Students from under-represented racial/minority groups and women in science and engineering are especially encouraged to apply.

To apply for this unique opportunity, send your resume along with a summary of your research experience and the name and contact information of at least one faculty research advisor to Ashanti Edwards at aedwards@jhu.edu. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply. A very limited number of IRES positions are available, so don’t wait until the deadline to apply.

Nanobiotechnology in Belgium is great, but their waffles might be better. (Mike Keung 2009)

If you have additional questions, please contact Ashanti Edwards at aedwards@jhu.edu or (410) 516-6572 for more information on the application process.

Additional information:

Summer at IMEC Video Blog

Summer at IMEC 2011 Blog

Summer at IMEC 2009-2010 Blog

IMEC

INBT

Story by Mary Spiro

Postdoctoral Position in Flow Cytometry, Receptor Quantification for Cancer Angiogenesis

NBT affiliated researcher Dr. Aleksander Popel seeks an independent and motivated researcher for a Postdoctoral Fellowship in his Systems Biology laboratory in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The successful candidate will join a research team that combines molecular and imaging tools to discover and elucidate mechanisms of tumor angiogenesis and drug action.

Specific skills will include cell-surface receptor biology and imaging, flow cytometry (FACS) (see Imoukhuede PI, Popel AS. Quantification and cell-to-cell variation of vascular endothelial growth factor receptors. Exp Cell Res. 317:955-65, 2011). Experiences with Quantum Dots imaging and tissue dissociation are a plus. Knowledge of murine models of cancer is desirable.

Applicant must have a recent doctoral degree with a demonstrated record of innovative scientific accomplishments as evidenced by first-author papers published or accepted in a premiere journal.

Qualified candidates must also demonstrate outstanding communication skills, have a strong passion and commitment to science, and work well within a group.

This position is for US citizens, permanent residents or holders of an F1/OPT visa with at least six months of work authorization left.

Johns Hopkins University is an Equal Opportunity Employer with a commitment to diversity. All individuals are encouraged to apply.

How to apply: Email curriculum vitae and names of three references to: Dr. A.S. Popel, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205. Telephone 410-955-6419, E-mail apopel@jhu.edu

Visit Dr. Popel’s website here.

Johns Hopkins and UVa co-host 2-day imaging workshop

Learn about state-of-the-art imaging methods at the In Vivo Preclinical Imaging: an Introductory Workshop, March 20-21 at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine Turner Auditorium. Co-hosted by Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia and the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM), this workshop will bring together gifted lecturers to cover the fundamentals of in vivo small animal imaging.

The workshop will cover an incredible breadth of material of interest and value to physicians, scientists (including postdoctoral fellows and graduate students) and scientific laboratory professionals interested in using molecular imaging for in vivo biomedical applications. Individuals with experience in small animal imaging as well as beginners are welcome. Participants learn the fundamentals of various small animal imaging modalities. A limited number of participants will also have the opportunity to register to attend a half-day, hands on workshop held on the afternoon of the second day, March 21. Registration for this unique opportunity is on first-come first-served, so don’t wait to register.

Speakers will address imaging modalities including MRI and MRS, PET, SPECT, optical imaging (bioluminescence & fluorescence imaging/tomography), ultrasound, x-ray CT, photoacoustic imaging and multimodality imaging. Speakers will also examine instrumentation, acquisition and reconstruction, MR/SPECT/PET imaging probes, targets and applications, small animal handling, techniques for imaging infectious disease models and data analysis.

More information about the workshop, including a full agenda of topics, registration and details about transportation and lodging can be found at the workshop website. www.snm.org/pci2012.

INBT Happy Hour – Friday 4/13

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REU Deadline March 1, 2012

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