Canary Center at Stanford Research
This laboratory is developing imaging assays to monitor fundamental cellular/molecular events in living subjects including patients. Technologies such as micro positron emission tomography (microPET), bioluminescence optical imaging, fluorescence optical imaging, micro computerized axial tomography (microCAT), ultrasound, photoacoustics, Raman imaging are all being actively investigated in small animal models. Our goals are to marry fundamental advances in molecular/cell biology with those in biomedical imaging to advance the field of molecular imaging. We have a particular interest in cancer biology and gene therapy. Research in early cancer detection and pharmacological therapy assessment is also being performed. Assays to interrogate cells for mRNA levels, cell surface antigens, intracellular proteins and protein-protein interactions are under active development. We are also extending many of these approaches for human clinical applications using optical and PET-CT technologies.
Our laboratory develops and implements ultrasonic beamforming methods, ultrasonic imaging modalities, and ultrasonic devices. Our current focus is on beamforming methods that are capable of generating high-quality images in the difficult-to-image patient population. These methods include general B-mode and Doppler imaging techniques that utilize additional information from the ultrasonic wavefields. We attempt to build these imaging methods into real-time imaging systems in order to apply them to clinical applications. Other projects in our laboratory include the development of novel ultrasonic imaging devices, such as small, intravascular ultrasound arrays capable of generating high acoustic output. These arrays are capable of generating radiation force in order to push on tissue to elucidate the mechanical properties and structure of vascular plaques.
The research themes of the BAMM Lab focus on creating new micro- and nano-scale bioengineering and biomedical microfluidic technology platforms at the convergence of engineering, biology and materials science with an emphasis on broad biotechnology applications in medicine. We have published numerous original articles on micro/nano-scale biotechnologies and their broad applications in medicine, new microfluidic methodologies in manipulating cells and detecting rare biotargets from unprocessed bodily fluids such as urine and whole blood for diagnostics and monitoring targets, and their use in tandem with traditional laboratory techniques.
Dr. Fan studies how turning off oncogenes (cancer genes) can cause tumor regression in preclinical and clinical studies. Based on preclinical findings, she has initiated clinical trials studying how tyrosine kinase inhibitors impact the hypoxia pathway in kidney cancer and the use of atorvastatin for the treatment of patients with certain non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. In the laboratory, she also uses preclinical models of cancer to validate new nanotechnology strategies for tumor diagnosis and treatment. She has shown that a new nano-immunoassay (NIA) can be used to measure how well drugs work in tumor cells sampled from individual patients with leukemia, lymphoma and myelodysplastic syndrome taking novel targeted therapies (Fan et al. Nature Medicine 2009, Seetharam, Fan et al. Leukemia Research 2012, Fan et al Oncotarget 2012). She is currently expanding her translational research to include early diagnostics, therapeutic monitoring, and prediction of response to therapeutics in solid tumors such as kidney cancer and lung cancer, with the goal of helping to make personalized medicine possible.
My research group is mainly interested in developing novel therapeutics, drug delivery methods, and cancer early detection by exploring epigenetic histone methylation as a biomarker. Histone methylation is considered a very early biological event which occurs within the cell that can alter gene expression and initiate oncogenesis. Assay systems that can pattern the oncogenic histone methylation to important targets (H3-K4, H3-K9, H3-K27, H3-K36 and H3-K79) within the transcriptionally active chromatin isolated from plasma associated chromatin can predict the presence of cancer cells with active chromatins released to the circulation. We are currently working on patterning histone methylation of oncogenic chromatin. We will soon use the identified pattern to explore the chromatins isolated plasma samples of cancer patients. In addition, we are also currently working on the use of microRNAs as therapeutic agents for treating various cancers. We are delivering these therapeutic miRNAs via PLGA-PEG nanoparticles and cell derived vesicles as novel delivery vehicles.
The Pitteri laboratory is focused on the discovery and validation of proteins that can be used as molecular indicators of risk, diagnosis, progression, and recurrence of cancer. Proteomic technologies, predominantly mass spectrometry, are used to identify proteins in the blood that are differentially regulated and/or post-translationally modified with disease state. Using human plasma samples, tumor tissue, cancer cell lines, and genetically engineered mouse models, the origins of these proteins are being investigated. A major goal of this research is to define novel molecular signatures for breast and ovarian cancers, including particular sub-types of these diseases. This laboratory is also focused on the identification of proteins with expression restricted to the surface of cancer cells which can be used as novel targets for molecular imaging technologies.
Our research laboratory develops novel materials and devices for the early detection and personalized treatment of diseases. Our laboratory consists of researchers from many disciplines including Physics, Chemistry, and diverse areas of Engineering. Currently, our research focuses on two themes.
Directed evolution of materials: Evolution only requires three basic elements: mutation (for diversity), selection (for function), and amplification (of the winning species). In our work, we use these evolutionary principles to synthesize new materials that do not exist in nature but can perform complex and useful functions. We are particularly interested in evolving nucleic-acid materials (called “aptamers") that can perform molecular recognition, because these materials offer new avenues for improving molecular diagnostics and targeted therapies.
Integrated biosensors: The technology for detecting biomolecules at low concentrations directly in complex samples - with high sensitivity and specificity - is critical for precision medicine. Our lab develops advanced biosensors that can integrate multiple biophysical and biochemical processes in a single disposable device. Recently, our laboratory pioneered the development of "real-time biosensors" that can continuously measure specific biomolecules directly in living animals.
Our research focuses on understanding fundamental molecular mechanisms underlying cancer development. Currently, we study signaling cascades initiated by cell surface receptors which are involved in: 1) the early event of prostate cancer initiation and 2) regulation of the transition from indolent to metastatic disease. The long term goal of our laboratory is to improve the stratification of indolent from aggressive prostate cancer and aid the development of better therapeutic strategies for the advanced disease.
This laboratory focuses on the development and clinical translation of novel molecular and functional imaging biomarkers with special focus on imaging abdominal and pelvic cancer including pancreatic, liver, renal, ovarian, and prostate cancer. We further advance clinically available radiological imaging modalities such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) as promising imaging tools for early detection and treatment monitoring of abdominal and pelvic cancer. Our mission is to integrate novel molecular and functional imaging strategies into clinical protocols for improved patient care in the near future..