Biomedical Imaging Graduate Students
- Monica Garcia My research focuses on characterizing endothelial cell dynamics during vascular remodeling in the mouse embryonic yolk sac. I am currently using confocal microscopy and embryo culture to visualize and quantify the migration and proliferation of endothelial cells as vessels form and remodel in the yolk sac. The goal of my research is to determine the role that Akt signaling plays in vessel remodeling in the yolk sac.
- Pier-Anne Lachance The lymphatic system is a major component of the circulatory system which functions are fluid balance, lipid absorption, and a site for immune surveillance. Due to the importance of the lymphatic’s functions for tissue homeostasis, pathologies which involve lymphatic dysfunctions are diverse and include lymphedema, inflammation, obesity, and cancer.
The process of forming new lymphatic vessels is called lymphangiogenesis. There is a need to understand the mechanism and the role of lymphangiogenesis in diseases. Herein, there is a need for developing a molecular imaging agent which could image the process in vivo. The α9 integrin subunit has been linked to lymphangiogenesis through its direct interaction with the vascular endothelial growth factor family and the hepatocyte growth factor. In addition, α9 integrin is a critical in lymphatic vessel development, suggested by the lethality of α9 knockout mice. We believe that expression and affinity of α9 integrin are changed during lymphangiogenesis to promote lymphatic cells proliferation and migration. Therefore, α9 integrin is a potential molecular target for imaging of lymphatic remodeling.
For my thesis project, we have synthesized and labeled four peptides containing either the MLDG or EIDGIEL motif, which are known to bind to the integrins α9. The peptides were conjugated to IRDye800 for near-infrared optical imaging. We are developing and validating the peptide agents for in vivo lymphangiogenesis imaging.