Research Highlight

Collagen and Breast Cancer

While diagnosis of human breast cancers is advancing, current biomarkers cannot predict outcome for all patients.  Endogenous optical properties of cells and tissues could potentially be used as biomarkers in the clinic.  Collagen can be detected, without staining or labeling of tissue, using second harmonic generation (SHG) imaging, a multiphoton technique.  Collagen signatures, see in mouse models, could be used in breast cancer patients to predict outcomes. 

Collagen Signatures

Collagen organization and density can have a profound effect on the behavior of breast cancer cells.  Using second harmonic generation (SHG), the structure of collagen in intact mammary mouse mammary glands can be visualized.  In collaboration with the Keely Lab, a metatstatic collagen signature (TACS3) has been identified leading to useful characterization of breast tissue and tumors.

High Speed Multiphoton Imaging

Several research projects currently being pursued at LOCI require fast, multiphoton imaging. On the basis of the rationale outlined below we are currently developing a high-speed, single beam laser-scanning MP system. The scanning system will be used in conjunction with the spectral/lifetime detector and will be tightly integrated with this device.

Image Informatics

Bioimage informatics is an interdisciplinary field of research encompassing biology, information science, computer science, statistics, and engineering. Bioimage informatics strives to automate, simplify, and otherwise improve and reinvent techniques for the description, management, analysis, and preservation of biological image data.

Metabolic Mapping

Eukaryotic cells depend upon the mitochondrial electron transport chain to produce energy in the form of ATP when oxygen is present.  The first complex of this chain oxidizes NADH to NAD+.  Conveniently, NADH is an intrinsically fluorescent molecule, while NAD+ is not.  Time-resolved studies of NADH fluorescence using fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) can be used to obtain information about NADH and metabolic states in non-malignant and malignant cells.