Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Columbia engineer observes surprising behavior of cells during blood-vessel formation

08.03.2011
Great deal of variation found in behavior of genetically identical cells -- noise may be a clue

Biologists tend to look at cells in bulk, observing them as a group and taking the average behavior as the norm — the assumption is that genetically identical cells all behave the same way.

In a paper to be published in the online Early Edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of March 7, 2011, Sam Sia, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering, presents the results of his four-year tissue-engineering study that show a surprising range of variation in how individual cells behave during formation of a blood vessel.

Sia and his team used a new method to painstakingly observe and track individual behaviors, characterizing, for the first time, what happens when human endothelial cells move from an initial dispersed state to the formation of capillary-like structures.

"We were really surprised by this behavior," says Sia, who was named one of the world's top young innovators for 2010 by MIT's Technology Review for his work in biotechnology and medicine. "In contrast to the population-averaged behavior that most studies report, most individual cells followed distinct patterns of cell-shape changes that were not reflected in the bulk average."

This is one of the first explicit studies to look at the variations between cells during tissue formation, and overturns the assumption that genetically identical cells behave in generally similar ways. Using a systematic approach to quantifying the changes in cell shape and movement for every single endothelial cell over time, the Columbia Engineering team found unexpected hidden patterns in behavior. In addition to discovering that most cells behave differently from the average, the team also observed that groups of cells behaved in similar fashions, and that some of these clusters of behavior resulted in distinct structural roles in the final blood-vessel network.

The origins of the variations in behavior are not known right now. Sia notes that "one possibility is simply random noise or naturally occurring fluctuations, which have been shown by other researchers to be important in producing biologically significant variations in gene expression and other subcellular processes. It's also possible there are subtle local variations in the extracellular environment that we're not aware of yet."

Sia says an application of this work is to exploit his technique to identify new drugs that modify angiogenesis. "A lot of drugs that either help or hinder blood-vessel formation have unknown mechanisms. This technique can potentially unravel some of those mechanisms, and help identify compounds that modulate specific aspects of how blood vessels form." In addition, knowledge of how individual cells behave will help in high-precision tissue engineering, an ongoing field of research in Sia's lab. "Knowledge of how individual cells or groups of cells behave enhances our understanding of how native tissues self-organize," he says. "This could ultimately enable more precise approaches for engineering complex multicellular tissues."

Sia was also named in 2010 by NASA as one of the ten innovators in human health and sustainability. In 2008, he received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation that included a $400,000 grant to support his other research specialty in three-dimensional tissue engineering. A recipient of the Walter H. Coulter Early Career Award in 2008, Sia participated in the National Academy of Engineering's U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium for the nation's brightest young engineers in 2007.

His research is focused on developing new high-resolution tools to control the extracellular environments around cells, in order to study how they interact to form human tissues and organs. His lab uses techniques from a number of different fields, including biochemistry, molecular biology, microfabrication, microfluidics, materials chemistry, and cell and tissue biology.

Sia earned his B.Sc. in biochemistry from the University of Alberta, and his Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University, where he also a postdoctoral fellow in chemistry and chemical biology.

This study has been supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) and the National Science Foundation.

Columbia Engineering

Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, founded in 1864, offers programs in nine departments to both undergraduate and graduate students. With facilities specifically designed and equipped to meet the laboratory and research needs of faculty and students, Columbia Engineering is home to NSF-NIH funded centers in genomic science, molecular nanostructures, materials science, and energy, as well as one of the world's leading programs in financial engineering. These interdisciplinary centers are leading the way in their respective fields while individual groups of engineers and scientists collaborate to solve some of society's more vexing challenges.

Holly Evarts | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.columbia.edu
http://www.engineering.columbia.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

nachricht Pollen taxi for bacteria
18.07.2018 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts

18.07.2018 | Life Sciences

Machine-learning predicted a superhard and high-energy-density tungsten nitride

18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Why might reading make myopic?

18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>