Instructor in Dermatology
Massachusetts General Hospital
Massachusetts General Hospital
Wellman Ctr for Photomedicine
55 Fruit St
Boston MA 02114
|University Hospital Hamburg Eppendorf, Germany||PhD||06/2004||Radiation Biology|
|University of Oldenburg, Germany||MS||06/1999||Biochemistry|
2010 - 2011
ASLMS Reseach Grant
2017 - 2018
STTR-UV-emitting nanoparticles as novel radiation sensitizers targeting hypoxic cells
I am an Instructor in Dermatology at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine. During my Ph.D. theses, I studied radiation induced DNA damage and got interested in the field of radiation oncology research. I started my first postdoctoral fellowship in 2005 at the Radiation Oncology Department at MGH continuing my previous research on radiation induced DNA damage. During my second post doctoral fellowship at the Dermatology Department I was involved in several translational research projects such as heat and lidocaine sensitivity on cells or skin tissue engineering. In 2010 I was promoted to an instructor in Dermatology. 3 years ago, I combined my radiation oncology background with my achieved translational research knowledge and started 2 new projects involving light and heat to treat cancer:
One is focusing on the stress response of non-heated cells which are in close proximity to heated ones. Recently, I discovered that DNA damage and loss of cell viability can be induced in human cells simply by being co-cultured with previously heat exposed cells. Subsequently, I demonstrated that this “Active Thermal Bystander Effect” (ATBE) is cell cycle dependent. The in vitro data demonstrated that cells which are actively participating in the cell cycle exhibit a significant higher ATBE, whereas non-dividing or differentiated cells do not exhibit an ATBE. In addition, I observed an increased level of ATBE in more active cell cycling cancer cells (HeLa). These in vitro data were the foundation to investigate the ATBE in vivo to selectively target cancer cells. In a subcutaneous cancer model in mice I observed an up to 30% reduction of tumor growth after induction of the ATBE compare to non-treated control mice. These highly promising in vivo data suggest that the use of remote moderate heat as an adjuvant treatment to conventional cancer treatment might result in an increased tumor control.
The second approach to improve cancer treatment is the deliver UV-C emitting nanoparticles into tumor tissue. These specific nanoparticles emit UV-C once excited with x-ray. These UV photons are more potent to damage the DNA in close proximity due to a direct and O2 independent interaction. The additional UV-C photons kill more tumor cells, in particular in hypoxic tumor regions which are typically more radiationresistant. Currently, I am testing different compounds in respect to UV-C emission efficiency and tumor deliver. The first in vitro data support the hypothesis and showed an increased cell death after UV-C emitting nanoparticle treatment combined with convetional x-ray radiation. Irradiation with 2 Gy with UV emitting nanoparticles resulted in a surviving fraction which is equivalent to a 4 Gy radiation alone.
With my current UV nanoparticles project, I started my own group in 2016 within my supervisor Dr. Andersons group and hired a postdoctoral fellow, who will support this project. I focus on light emitting nanoparticles for medical problems. I already got awarded an STTR grant to continue the UV nanoparticle project and an institutional discovery grant to study blue light emitting nanoparticles to treat wound infections.
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