Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Engineering center to probe forces that cause cancer to spread

Abstract:
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology have been awarded $14.8 million from the National Cancer Institute to launch a research center aimed at unraveling the physical underpinnings of the growth and spread of cancer.

Engineering center to probe forces that cause cancer to spread

Baltimore, MD | Posted on October 26th, 2009

The new Johns Hopkins Engineering in Oncology Center at INBT includes 11 Johns Hopkins faculty members affiliated with the INBT and four from partner universities. The project's participants say that they hope this new line of research will lead to never-before-considered approaches to cancer therapy and diagnostics.

The Johns Hopkins center is one of 12 being launched by the National Cancer Institute to bring a new cadre of theoretical physicists, mathematicians, chemists and engineers to the study of cancer. During the five-year initiative, the NCI's Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers will take new, nontraditional approaches to cancer research by studying the physical laws and principles of cancer; evolution and evolutionary theory of cancer; information coding, decoding, transfer and translation in cancer; and ways to deconvolute cancer's complexity.

"By bringing a fresh set of eyes to the study of cancer, these new centers have great potential to advance, and sometimes challenge, accepted theories about cancer and its supportive microenvironment," NCI Director John E. Niederhuber said.

The NCI, part of the National Institutes of Health, will allocate the Johns Hopkins-based Engineering in Oncology Center's funding over five years. As the name of the center suggests, the researchers will look at how physical sciences play a role in the way cancer spreads, commonly called metastasis.

"Physical scientists think in terms of time, space, pressure, heat and evolution in ways that we hope will lead to new understandings of the multitude of forces that govern cancer," Niederhuber said, "and with that understanding, we hope to develop new and innovative methods of arresting tumor growth and metastasis."

Denis Wirtz, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering, will direct the center, and Gregg L. Semenza, a leading researcher at the School of Medicine, will serve as associate director.

"Metastasis is a highly coordinated, multistep process," Wirtz said. "Cancer cells break free from a primary tumor, penetrate into the bloodstream, evade host defenses, stick to the interior walls of blood vessels and travel to other organs, where they set up new cancer cell colonies. During this cascade of events, tumor cells push on and are pushed by mechanical forces within their microenvironment. Cells translate those mechanical forces into biochemical signals that affect cell growth and function. If we can gain a better understanding of this process, we may find new and better ways to treat cancer."

Wirtz, who is principal investigator, also serves as associate director of the university's Institute for NanoBioTechnology, a cross-divisional institute launched in May 2006 with 185 Johns Hopkins faculty members who are using nanoscience to answer questions in medicine, the basic sciences and public health.

The new cancer center will similarly draw on Johns Hopkins researchers with diverse expertise to study the role of physical forces involved in the development and spread of cancer.

"Mechanical forces inside the body, such as shear exerted by blood flowing through blood vessels, typically destroy the millions of cancer cells that are constantly shed from tumors," Wirtz said. "But the 'fittest' of cancer cells survive these Darwinian-like selective pressures and may become the culprits that spread cancer. Little is known about the effect of mechanical forces on the regulation of cancer cell growth. That is what the Engineering in Oncology Center and the National Cancer Institute want to find out. The results should point us to therapies and diagnostic tools that complement existing genetic or molecular treatments."

In a congratulatory letter to Wirtz concerning the new center, Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels wrote, "This is a terrific achievement that highlights the value of interdisciplinary research and collaboration across the university and the increasing importance this approach will have in the coming years. I am especially proud to see Johns Hopkins lead the way in this manner. … Not only will you be embarking into a new realm of scientific collaboration, you will be, at the same time, establishing Johns Hopkins as a leading center of excellence in this field. The ongoing fight against cancer demands new ideas, perspectives and approaches, and that is precisely what you are creating in [this] center."

Semenza, the associate director, is affiliated with the School of Medicine's departments of Pediatrics, Medicine, Oncology and Radiation Oncology, and the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine. He is the C. Michael Armstrong Professor in Medicine and founding director of the Vascular Program at the school's Institute for Cell Engineering. He also has ties to the School of Medicine's Department of Biological Chemistry and to the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.

Semenza and Sharon Gerecht, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, will lead one of the center's three key research projects related to how cancer spreads. They will focus on analyzing the makeup and physical properties of the extracellular matrix, the three-dimensional scaffold in which cells live.

"Normal cells live in a flexible scaffold, but cancer cells create a rigid scaffold that they climb through to invade normal tissue," Semenza said. "We will study how this change occurs and how it is affected by the amount of oxygen to which cancer cells are exposed. Our studies have shown that cancer cells are deprived of oxygen, which incites them to more aggressively invade the surrounding normal tissues where oxygen is more plentiful. Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 controls the responses of cancer cells to low oxygen, and we have recently identified drugs that block the action of HIF-1 and inhibit tumor growth in experimental cancer models."

The center's second key research project teams Wirtz with Greg D. Longmore, a cancer cell biologist at Washington University in St. Louis. The two will study the physical basis for cancer cell adhesion and de-adhesion and how it increases the likelihood that cancer cells will break free, move into the bloodstream and migrate to other tissues. "Cancer cells are able to modulate proteins on the surface almost like a protein 'brake' that allows them to adhere or de-adhere in response to mechanical forces," Wirtz said.

The center's third primary research project will be led by Konstantinos Konstantopoulos, professor and chair of the Whiting School's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Martin L. Pomper, who holds appointments in the School of Medicine's Department of Radiology and the Kimmel Cancer Center. These two researchers will investigate the effects of fluid mechanical forces at different oxygen tension microenvironments on tumor cell signaling, adhesion and migration.

"Fluid flow in and around tumor tissue modulates the mechanical microenvironment, including the forces acting on the cell surface and the tethering force on cell-substrate connections," Konstantopoulos said. "Cells in the interior of a tumor mass experience a lower oxygen tension microenvironment and lower fluid velocities than those at the edges in proximity with a functional blood vessel and are prompted to produce different biochemical signals. These differential responses affect tumor cell fate—that is, whether a cell will live or die, and whether it will be able to detach and migrate to secondary sites in the body."

All three projects will combine experimental and computational/theoretical results to develop a better picture of how these mechanical forces influence cancer metastasis.

In addition to the research component, the Engineering in Oncology Center will have a multidisciplinary training program for predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows. The training program will be co-directed by Peter Searson, INBT's director and the Joseph R. and Lynn C. Reynolds Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and the School of Medicine's Kenneth W. Kinzler, who is among the world's most-cited cancer biologists and who serves as co-director of the Johns Hopkins Ludwig Center.

Other Johns Hopkins researchers affiliated with the Engineering in Oncology Center are Sean X. Sun, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and two faculty members from the Department of Biomedical Engineering: Kevin Yarema, associate professor, and Aleksander S. Popel, professor.

In addition to Longmore, the researchers from other institutions who will participate in the Johns Hopkins-based center are Timothy C. Elston, a theoretical and computational biophysicist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Yiider Tseng, an experimental biophysicist and biochemist at the University of Florida; and Charles W. Wolgemuth, a theoretical and computational biophysicist at the University of Connecticut.

The center will incorporate two dedicated research facilities, also known as cores. The EOC Imaging Core will be established under the existing Integrated Imaging Center on the Homewood campus. J. Michael McCaffery, associate research professor of biology in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, will oversee the Imaging Core and facilitate imaging resources for EOC faculty. Searson will oversee the EOC Microfabrication Core, which will assist researchers in making the needed materials and devices for their experiments.

The Engineering in Oncology Center will be administered by the Institute for NanoBioTechnology, located on the Homewood campus, where research will occur in renovated laboratory facilities. Training and collaboration with investigators located at the four other research universities on the grant will occur through periodic onsite visits and via Web-based platforms.

More information about the National Cancer Institute's Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers program can be found at physics.cancer.gov/centers

####

About Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology
The Institute for NanoBioTechnology at Johns Hopkins University brings together 188 researchers from: Bloomberg School of Public Health, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, School of Medicine, Applied Physics Laboratory, and Whiting School of Engineering to create new knowledge and new technologies at the interface of nanoscience and medicine.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Mary Spiro

410-516-4802

Copyright © EurekAlert

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Johns Hopkins Engineering in Oncology Center at INBT

Related News Press

Chemistry

Anti-microbial coatings with a long-term effect for surfaces – presentation at nano tech 2015 in Japan January 21st, 2015

Hydrogels deliver on blood-vessel growth: Rice researchers introduce improved injectable scaffold to promote healing January 20th, 2015

Graphene enables all-electrical control of energy flow from light emitters: First signatures of graphene plasmons at telecommunications wavelength revealed January 20th, 2015

Physics

Nano-beaker offers insight into the condensation of atoms January 21st, 2015

Atoms can be in 2 places at the same time: Researchers of the University of Bonn have shown that cesium atoms do not follow well-defined paths January 20th, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

The latest fashion: Graphene edges can be tailor-made: Rice University theory shows it should be possible to tune material's properties January 24th, 2015

Scientists 'bend' elastic waves with new metamaterials that could have commercial applications: Materials could benefit imaging and military enhancements such as elastic cloaking January 23rd, 2015

Harper Government Supports Research Innovation in Western Canada January 22nd, 2015

EnvisioNano: An image contest hosted by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) January 22nd, 2015

Nanomedicine

Teijin to Participate in Nano Tech 2015 January 22nd, 2015

2nd International Conference on Infectious Diseases & Nanomedicine (December 15-18, 2015, Kathmandu, NEPAL) January 22nd, 2015

Anti-microbial coatings with a long-term effect for surfaces – presentation at nano tech 2015 in Japan January 21st, 2015

A spoonful of sugar in silver nanoparticles to regulate their toxicity January 21st, 2015

Announcements

GS7 Graphene Sensor maybe Solution in Fight Against Cancer January 25th, 2015

Toyocolor to Launch New Carbon Nanotube Materials at nano tech 2015 January 24th, 2015

NANOPOSTER 2015 - 5th Virtual Nanotechnology Conference - call for abstracts January 24th, 2015

Nanosensor Used for Simultaneous Determination of Effective Tea Components January 24th, 2015

Grants/Awards/Scholarships/Gifts/Contests/Honors/Records

OCSiAl supports NanoART Imagery Contest January 23rd, 2015

EnvisioNano: An image contest hosted by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) January 22nd, 2015

Laser-generated surface structures create extremely water-repellent metals: Super-hydrophobic properties could lead to applications in solar panels, sanitation and as rust-free metals January 20th, 2015

NREL Scientist Brian Gregg Named AAAS Fellow: Gregg honored for distinguished contributions to the field of organic solar photoconversion January 20th, 2015

Nanobiotechnology

DNA 'glue' could someday be used to build tissues, organs January 14th, 2015

Photonic crystal nanolaser biosensor simplifies DNA detection: New device offers a simpler and potentially less expensive way to detect DNA and other biomolecules through changes in surface charge density or solution pH January 13th, 2015

Determination of Critical Force, Time for Manipulation of Biological Nanoparticles January 7th, 2015

DNA Origami Could Lead to Nano “Transformers” for Biomedical Applications: Tiny hinges and pistons hint at possible complexity of future nano-robots January 5th, 2015

Alliances/Partnerships/Distributorships

Smart keyboard cleans and powers itself -- and can tell who you are January 21st, 2015

DNA 'glue' could someday be used to build tissues, organs January 14th, 2015

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Linear Dimensions to Offer Joint Analog Solution For Fast-Growing Wearables and MEMs Sensors Markets January 9th, 2015

Nanowire clothing could keep people warm -- without heating everything else January 7th, 2015

New-Contracts/Sales/Customers

DELMIC reports on applications of their SPARC technology at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden December 16th, 2014

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Expands Government and Defense Projects December 10th, 2014

Iran Exports Nanodrugs to Syria November 24th, 2014

Tesla NanoCoatings Increasing Use of SouthWest NanoTechnologies Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) for its Infrastructure Coatings and Paints: High Quality SMW™ Specialty Multi-wall Carbon Nanotubes Incorporated into Teslan®-brand coatings used by Transportation, Oil and Gas Companies November 19th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE