Professor: Claudia Fischbach-Teschl
Project Description: Extensive vascularization and endothelial cell invasion are pathological hallmarks of many different forms of cancer, particularly in Glioblastoma Multiforme. As a consequence, vascular development in cancer has been the focus of many clinical and research approaches in understanding the tumor microenvironment and the role vasculature has in reshaping and promoting disease progression. The extracellular matrix (ECM) and its topological, mechanical, and biochemical properties all contribute to the maintenance of functional vasculature as well as possibly contributing to the development of dysfunctional vasculature. Indeed, while blood vessels support glioma cells, these tumor cells appear to have a regulatory and contributory effect on both the development of vasculature and the remodeling of the extracellular matrix, supporting both tumor homeostasis and tumor growth. To assess the ECM-tumor-blood vessel relationship, our lab has develop tissue engineered models that involves the creation of hydrogels with many different matrix components and structural properties that aim to recreate this so-called “perivascular niche.” Through characterization of angiogenesis, matrix remodeling, and vascular response to tumor stimulus, we are able to answer questions about which properties of this tandem relationship confer tissue response and disease progression. Time-lapse and confocal imaging combined with hydrogel incubation and culture would be the crux of analyzing specific endothelial cell behaviors and matrix properties. By participating in this project, a student researcher would be exposed to the methods of hydrogel fabrication, basic human cell culture and assays, imaging analysis, and quantification of cell behavior. The results from these experiments will provide valuable information for our understanding of how endothelial cells remodel their environment and the role of stimulus in endothelial cell behavior.