Fischell Department of Bioengineering Research Works

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Recent Submissions

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    Chitosan to Connect Biology to Electronics: Fabricating the Bio-Device Interface and Communicating Across This Interface
    (MDPI, 2014-12-24) Kim, Eunkyoung; Xiong, Yuan; Cheng, Yi; Wu, Hsuan-Chen; Liu, Yi; Morrow, Brian H.; Ben-Yoav, Hadar; Ghodssi, Reza; Rubloff, Gary W.; Shen, Jana; Bentley, William E.; Shi, Xiaowen; Payne, Gregory F.
    Individually, advances in microelectronics and biology transformed the way we live our lives. However, there remain few examples in which biology and electronics have been interfaced to create synergistic capabilities. We believe there are two major challenges to the integration of biological components into microelectronic systems: (i) assembly of the biological components at an electrode address, and (ii) communication between the assembled biological components and the underlying electrode. Chitosan possesses a unique combination of properties to meet these challenges and serve as an effective bio-device interface material. For assembly, chitosan’s pH-responsive film-forming properties allow it to “recognize” electrode-imposed signals and respond by self-assembling as a stable hydrogel film through a cathodic electrodeposition mechanism. A separate anodic electrodeposition mechanism was recently reported and this also allows chitosan hydrogel films to be assembled at an electrode address. Protein-based biofunctionality can be conferred to electrodeposited films through a variety of physical, chemical and biological methods. For communication, we are investigating redox-active catechol-modified chitosan films as an interface to bridge redox-based communication between biology and an electrode. Despite significant progress over the last decade, many questions still remain which warrants even deeper study of chitosan’s structure, properties, and functions.
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    Engineering Cell Surfaces with Polyelectrolyte Materials for Translational Applications
    (MDPI, 2017-01-28) Zhang, Peipei; Bookstaver, Michelle L.; Jewell, Christopher M.
    Engineering cell surfaces with natural or synthetic materials is a unique and powerful strategy for biomedical applications. Cells exhibit more sophisticated migration, control, and functional capabilities compared to nanoparticles, scaffolds, viruses, and other engineered materials or agents commonly used in the biomedical field. Over the past decade, modification of cell surfaces with natural or synthetic materials has been studied to exploit this complexity for both fundamental and translational goals. In this review we present the existing biomedical technologies for engineering cell surfaces with one important class of materials, polyelectrolytes. We begin by introducing the challenges facing the cell surface engineering field. We then discuss the features of polyelectrolytes and how these properties can be harnessed to solve challenges in cell therapy, tissue engineering, cell-based drug delivery, sensing and tracking, and immune modulation. Throughout the review, we highlight opportunities to drive the field forward by bridging new knowledge of polyelectrolytes with existing translational challenges.
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    Catechol-Based Hydrogel for Chemical Information Processing
    (MDPI, 2017-07-03) Kim, Eunkyoung; Liu, Zhengchun; Liu, Yi; Bentley, William E.; Payne, Gregory F.
    Catechols offer diverse properties and are used in biology to perform various functions that range from adhesion (e.g., mussel proteins) to neurotransmission (e.g., dopamine), and mimicking the capabilities of biological catechols have yielded important new materials (e.g., polydopamine). It is well known that catechols are also redox-active and we have observed that biomimetic catechol-modified chitosan films are redox-active and possess interesting molecular electronic properties. In particular, these films can accept, store and donate electrons, and thus offer redox-capacitor capabilities. We are enlisting these capabilities to bridge communication between biology and electronics. Specifically, we are investigating an interactive redox-probing approach to access redox-based chemical information and convert this information into an electrical modality that facilitates analysis by methods from signal processing. In this review, we describe the broad vision and then cite recent examples in which the catechol–chitosan redox-capacitor can assist in accessing and understanding chemical information. Further, this redox-capacitor can be coupled with synthetic biology to enhance the power of chemical information processing. Potentially, the progress with this biomimetic catechol–chitosan film may even help in understanding how biology uses the redox properties of catechols for redox signaling.
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    The Binding Effect of Proteins on Medications and Its Impact on Electrochemical Sensing: Antipsychotic Clozapine as a Case Study
    (MDPI, 2017-08-01) Banis, George E.; Winkler, Thomas; Barton, Patricia; Chocron, Sheryl E.; Kim, Eunkyoung; Kelly, Deanna L.; Payne, Gregory F.; Ben-Yoav, Hadar; Ghodssi, Reza
    Clozapine (CLZ), a dibenzodiazepine, is demonstrated as the optimal antipsychotic for patients suffering from treatment-resistant schizophrenia. Like many other drugs, understanding the concentration of CLZ in a patient’s blood is critical for managing the patients’ symptoms, side effects, and overall treatment efficacy. To that end, various electrochemical techniques have been adapted due to their capabilities in concentration-dependent sensing. An open question associated with electrochemical CLZ monitoring is whether drug–protein complexes (i.e., CLZ bound to native blood proteins, such as serum albumin (SA) or alpha-1 acid-glycoprotein (AAG)) contribute to electrochemical redox signals. Here, we investigate CLZ-sensing performance using fundamental electrochemical methods with respect to the impact of protein binding. Specifically, we test the activity of bound and free fractions of a mixture of CLZ and either bovine SA or human AAG. Results suggest that bound complexes do not significantly contribute to the electrochemical signal for mixtures of CLZ with AAG or SA. Moreover, the fraction of CLZ bound to protein is relatively constant at 31% (AAG) and 73% (SA) in isolation with varying concentrations of CLZ. Thus, electrochemical sensing can enable direct monitoring of only the unbound CLZ, previously only accessible via equilibrium dialysis. The methods utilized in this work offer potential as a blueprint in developing electrochemical sensors for application to other redox-active medications with high protein binding more generally. This demonstrates that electrochemical sensing can be a new tool in accessing information not easily available previously, useful toward optimizing treatment regimens.
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    Modification and Assembly of a Versatile Lactonase for Bacterial Quorum Quenching
    (MDPI, 2018-02-06) Rhoads, Melissa K.; Hauk, Pricila; Gupta, Valerie; Bookstaver, Michelle L.; Stephens, Kristina; Payne, Gregory F.; Bentley, William E.
    This work sets out to provide a self-assembled biopolymer capsule activated with a multi-functional enzyme for localized delivery. This enzyme, SsoPox, which is a lactonase and phosphotriesterase, provides a means of interrupting bacterial communication pathways that have been shown to mediate pathogenicity. Here we demonstrate the capability to express, purify and attach SsoPox to the natural biopolymer chitosan, preserving its activity to “neutralize” long-chain autoinducer-1 (AI-1) communication molecules. Attachment is shown via non-specific binding and by engineering tyrosine and glutamine affinity ‘tags’ at the C-terminus for covalent linkage. Subsequent degradation of AI-1, in this case N-(3-oxododecanoyl)-l-homoserine lactone (OdDHL), serves to “quench” bacterial quorum sensing (QS), silencing intraspecies communication. By attaching enzymes to pH-responsive chitosan that, in turn, can be assembled into various forms, we demonstrate device-based flexibility for enzyme delivery. Specifically, we have assembled quorum-quenching capsules consisting of an alginate inner core and an enzyme “decorated” chitosan shell that are shown to preclude bacterial QS crosstalk, minimizing QS mediated behaviors.
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    Gelatin-Enabled Microsensor for Pancreatic Trypsin Sensing
    (MDPI, 2018-01-31) Banis, George; Beardslee, Luke A.; Ghodssi, Reza
    Digestive health is critically dependent on the secretion of enzymes from the exocrine pancreas to the duodenum via the pancreatic duct. Specifically, pancreatic trypsin is a major protease responsible for breaking down proteins for absorption in the small intestine. Gelatin-based hydrogels, deposited in the form of thin films, have been studied as potential sensor substrates that hydrolyze in the presence of trypsin. In this work, we (1) investigate gelatin as a sensing material; (2) develop a fabrication strategy for coating sensor surfaces; and (3) implement a miniaturized impedance platform for measuring activity levels of pancreatic trypsin. Using impedance spectroscopy, we evaluate gelatin’s specificity and rate of degradation when exposed to a combination of pancreatic enzymes in neutral solution representative of the macromolecular heterogeneity present in the duodenal environment. Our findings suggest gelatin’s preferential degradation to trypsin compared to enzymes such as lipase and amylase. We further observe their interference with trypsin behavior in equivalent concentrations, reducing film digestion by as much as 83% and 77%, respectively. We achieve film patterns in thicknesses ranging from 300–700 nm, which we coat over interdigitated finger electrode sensors. Finally, we test our sensors over several concentrations to emulate the range of pancreatic secretions. Ultimately, our microsensor will serve as the foundation for developing in situ sensors toward diagnosing pancreatic pathologies.
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    Nuclear Deformation in Response to Mechanical Confinement is Cell Type Dependent
    (MDPI, 2019-05-08) Doolin, Mary T.; Ornstein, Thea S.; Stroka, Kimberly M.
    Mechanosensing of the mechanical microenvironment by cells regulates cell phenotype and function. The nucleus is critical in mechanosensing, as it transmits external forces from the cellular microenvironment to the nuclear envelope housing chromatin. This study aims to elucidate how mechanical confinement affects nuclear deformation within several cell types, and to determine the role of cytoskeletal elements in controlling nuclear deformation. Human cancer cells (MDA-MB-231), human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), and mouse fibroblasts (L929) were seeded within polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) microfluidic devices containing microchannels of varying cross-sectional areas, and nuclear morphology and volume were quantified via image processing of fluorescent cell nuclei. We found that the nuclear major axis length remained fairly constant with increasing confinement in MSCs and MDA-MB-231 cells, but increased with increasing confinement in L929 cells. Nuclear volume of L929 cells and MSCs decreased in the most confining channels. However, L929 nuclei were much more isotropic in unconfined channels than MSC nuclei. When microtubule polymerization or myosin II contractility was inhibited, nuclear deformation was altered only in MSCs in wide channels. This work informs our understanding of nuclear mechanics in physiologically relevant spaces, and suggests diverging roles of the cytoskeleton in regulating nuclear deformation in different cell types.
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    Systematic Evaluation of Light-Activatable Biohybrids for Anti-Glioma Photodynamic Therapy
    (MDPI, 2019-08-21) Inglut, Collin T.; Baglo, Yan; Liang, Barry J.; Cheema, Yahya; Stabile, Jillian; Woodworth, Graeme F.; Huang, Huang-Chiao
    Photosensitizing biomolecules (PSBM) represent a new generation of light-absorbing compounds with improved optical and physicochemical properties for biomedical applications. Despite numerous advances in lipid-, polymer-, and protein-based PSBMs, their effective use requires a fundamental understanding of how macromolecular structure influences the physicochemical and biological properties of the photosensitizer. Here, we prepared and characterized three well-defined PSBMs based on a clinically used photosensitizer, benzoporphyrin derivative (BPD). The PSBMs include 16:0 lysophosphocholine-BPD (16:0 Lyso PC-BPD), distearoyl-phosphoethanolamine-polyethylene-glycol-BPD (DSPE-PEG-BPD), and anti-EGFR cetuximab-BPD (Cet-BPD). In two glioma cell lines, DSPE-PEG-BPD exhibited the highest singlet oxygen yield but was the least phototoxic due to low cellular uptake. The 16:0 Lyso PC-BPD was most efficient in promoting cellular uptake but redirected BPD’s subcellular localization from mitochondria to lysosomes. At 24 h after incubation, proteolyzed Cet-BPD was localized to mitochondria and effectively disrupted the mitochondrial membrane potential upon light activation. Our results revealed the variable trafficking and end effects of PSBMs, providing valuable insights into methods of PSBM evaluation, as well as strategies to select PSBMs based on subcellular targets and cytotoxic mechanisms. We demonstrated that biologically informed combinations of PSBMs to target lysosomes and mitochondria, concurrently, may lead to enhanced therapeutic effects against gliomas.
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    Immunological and Toxicological Considerations for the Design of Liposomes
    (MDPI, 2020-01-22) Inglut, Collin T.; Sorrin, Aaron J.; Kuruppu, Thilinie; Vig, Shruti; Cicalo, Julia; Ahmad, Haroon; Huang, Huang-Chiao
    Liposomes hold great potential as gene and drug delivery vehicles due to their biocompatibility and modular properties, coupled with the major advantage of attenuating the risk of systemic toxicity from the encapsulated therapeutic agent. Decades of research have been dedicated to studying and optimizing liposomal formulations for a variety of medical applications, ranging from cancer therapeutics to analgesics. Some effort has also been made to elucidate the toxicities and immune responses that these drug formulations may elicit. Notably, intravenously injected liposomes can interact with plasma proteins, leading to opsonization, thereby altering the healthy cells they come into contact with during circulation and removal. Additionally, due to the pharmacokinetics of liposomes in circulation, drugs can end up sequestered in organs of the mononuclear phagocyte system, affecting liver and spleen function. Importantly, liposomal agents can also stimulate or suppress the immune system depending on their physiochemical properties, such as size, lipid composition, pegylation, and surface charge. Despite the surge in the clinical use of liposomal agents since 1995, there are still several drawbacks that limit their range of applications. This review presents a focused analysis of these limitations, with an emphasis on toxicity to healthy tissues and unfavorable immune responses, to shed light on key considerations that should be factored into the design and clinical use of liposomal formulations.
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    Flow-induced Shear Stress Confers Resistance to Carboplatin in an Adherent Three-Dimensional Model for Ovarian Cancer: A Role for EGFR-Targeted Photoimmunotherapy Informed by Physical Stress
    (MDPI, 2020-03-28) Nath, Shubhankar; Pigula, Michael; Khan, Amjad P.; Hanna, William; Ruhi, Mustafa Kemal; Dehkordy, Farzaneh Mahmoodpoor; Pushpavanam, Karthik; Rege, Kaushal; Moore, Kaitlin; Tsujita, Yujiro; Conrad, Christina; Inci, Faith; del Carmen, Marcela G.; Franco, Walfre; Celli, Jonathan P.; Demirci, Utkan; Hasan, Tayyaba; Huang, Huang-Chiao; Rizvi, Imran
    A key reason for the persistently grim statistics associated with metastatic ovarian cancer is resistance to conventional agents, including platinum-based chemotherapies. A major source of treatment failure is the high degree of genetic and molecular heterogeneity, which results from significant underlying genomic instability, as well as stromal and physical cues in the microenvironment. Ovarian cancer commonly disseminates via transcoelomic routes to distant sites, which is associated with the frequent production of malignant ascites, as well as the poorest prognosis. In addition to providing a cell and protein-rich environment for cancer growth and progression, ascitic fluid also confers physical stress on tumors. An understudied area in ovarian cancer research is the impact of fluid shear stress on treatment failure. Here, we investigate the effect of fluid shear stress on response to platinum-based chemotherapy and the modulation of molecular pathways associated with aggressive disease in a perfusion model for adherent 3D ovarian cancer nodules. Resistance to carboplatin is observed under flow with a concomitant increase in the expression and activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) as well as downstream signaling members mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (MEK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). The uptake of platinum by the 3D ovarian cancer nodules was significantly higher in flow cultures compared to static cultures. A downregulation of phospho-focal adhesion kinase (p-FAK), vinculin, and phospho-paxillin was observed following carboplatin treatment in both flow and static cultures. Interestingly, low-dose anti-EGFR photoimmunotherapy (PIT), a targeted photochemical modality, was found to be equally effective in ovarian tumors grown under flow and static conditions. These findings highlight the need to further develop PIT-based combinations that target the EGFR, and sensitize ovarian cancers to chemotherapy in the context of flow-induced shear stress.
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    13C Metabolic Flux Analysis Indicates Endothelial Cells Attenuate Metabolic Perturbations by Modulating TCA Activity
    (MDPI, 2021-04-07) Moiz, Bilal; Garcia, Jonathan; Basehore, Sarah; Sun, Angela; Li, Andrew; Padmanabhan, Surya; Albus, Kaitlyn; Jang, Cholsoon; Sriram, Ganesh; Clyne, Alisa Morss
    Disrupted endothelial metabolism is linked to endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular disease. Targeted metabolic inhibitors are potential therapeutics; however, their systemic impact on endothelial metabolism remains unknown. In this study, we combined stable isotope labeling with 13C metabolic flux analysis (13C MFA) to determine how targeted inhibition of the polyol (fidarestat), pentose phosphate (DHEA), and hexosamine biosynthetic (azaserine) pathways alters endothelial metabolism. Glucose, glutamine, and a four-carbon input to the malate shuttle were important carbon sources in the baseline human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) 13C MFA model. We observed two to three times higher glutamine uptake in fidarestat and azaserine-treated cells. Fidarestat and DHEA-treated HUVEC showed decreased 13C enrichment of glycolytic and TCA metabolites and amino acids. Azaserine-treated HUVEC primarily showed 13C enrichment differences in UDP-GlcNAc. 13C MFA estimated decreased pentose phosphate pathway flux and increased TCA activity with reversed malate shuttle direction in fidarestat and DHEA-treated HUVEC. In contrast, 13C MFA estimated increases in both pentose phosphate pathway and TCA activity in azaserine-treated cells. These data show the potential importance of endothelial malate shuttle activity and suggest that inhibiting glycolytic side branch pathways can change the metabolic network, highlighting the need to study systemic metabolic therapeutic effects.
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    Photodynamic Priming Improves the Anti-Migratory Activity of Prostaglandin E Receptor 4 Antagonist in Cancer Cells In Vitro
    (MDPI, 2021-10-20) Sorrin, Aaron J.; Liu, Cindy; Cicalo, Julia; Reader, Jocelyn; Najafali, Daniel; Zhang, Yuji; Roque, Dana M.; Huang, Huang-Chiao
    The combination of photodynamic agents and biological inhibitors is rapidly gaining attention for its promise and approval in treating advanced cancer. The activity of photodynamic treatment is mainly governed by the formation of reactive oxygen species upon light activation of photosensitizers. Exposure to reactive oxygen species above a threshold dose can induce cellular damage and cancer cell death, while the surviving cancer cells are “photodynamically primed”, or sensitized, to respond better to other drugs and biological treatments. Here, we report a new combination regimen of photodynamic priming (PDP) and prostaglandin E2 receptor 4 (EP4) inhibition that reduces the migration and invasion of two human ovarian cancer cell lines (OVCAR-5 and CAOV3) in vitro. PDP is achieved by red light activation of the FDA-approved photosensitizer, benzoporphyrin derivative (BPD), or a chemical conjugate composed of the BPD linked to cetuximab, an anti-epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibody. Immunoblotting data identify co-inhibition of EGFR, cAMP-response element binding protein (CREB), and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) as key in the signaling cascades modulated by the combination of EGFR-targeted PDP and EP4 inhibition. This study provides valuable insights into the development of a molecular-targeted photochemical strategy to improve the anti-metastatic effects of EP4 receptor antagonists.
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    Targeting the Gut Mucosal Immune System Using Nanomaterials
    (MDPI, 2021-10-21) McCright, Jacob; Ramirez, Ann; Amosu, Mayowa; Sinha, Arnav; Bogseth, Amanda; Maisel, Katharina
    The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is one the biggest mucosal surface in the body and one of the primary targets for the delivery of therapeutics, including immunotherapies. GI diseases, including, e.g., inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal infections such as cholera, pose a significant public health burden and are on the rise. Many of these diseases involve inflammatory processes that can be targeted by immune modulatory therapeutics. However, nonspecific targeting of inflammation systemically can lead to significant side effects. This can be avoided by locally targeting therapeutics to the GI tract and its mucosal immune system. In this review, we discuss nanomaterial-based strategies targeting the GI mucosal immune system, including gut-associated lymphoid tissues, tissue resident immune cells, as well as GI lymph nodes, to modulate GI inflammation and disease outcomes, as well as take advantage of some of the primary mechanisms of GI immunity such as oral tolerance.
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    Recent Advancements in Mitochondria-Targeted Nanoparticle Drug Delivery for Cancer Therapy
    (MDPI, 2022-02-23) Xu, Jiangsheng; Shamul, James G.; Kwizera, Elyahb Allie; He, Xiaoming
    Mitochondria are critical subcellular organelles that produce most of the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as the energy source for most eukaryotic cells. Moreover, recent findings show that mitochondria are not only the “powerhouse” inside cells, but also excellent targets for inducing cell death via apoptosis that is mitochondria-centered. For several decades, cancer nanotherapeutics have been designed to specifically target mitochondria with several targeting moieties, and cause mitochondrial dysfunction via photodynamic, photothermal, or/and chemo therapies. These strategies have been shown to augment the killing of cancer cells in a tumor while reducing damage to its surrounding healthy tissues. Furthermore, mitochondria-targeting nanotechnologies have been demonstrated to be highly efficacious compared to non-mitochondria-targeting platforms both in vitro and in vivo for cancer therapies. Moreover, mitochondria-targeting nanotechnologies have been intelligently designed and tailored to the hypoxic and slightly acidic tumor microenvironment for improved cancer therapies. Collectively, mitochondria-targeting may be a promising strategy for the engineering of nanoparticles for drug delivery to combat cancer.
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    Tuning Design Parameters of ICAM-1-Targeted 3DNA Nanocarriers to Optimize Pulmonary Targeting Depending on Drug Type
    (MDPI, 2022-07-19) Roki, Nikša; Solomon, Melani; Bowers, Jessica; Getts, Lori; Getts, Robert C.; Muro, Silvia
    3DNA holds promise as a carrier for drugs that can be intercalated into its core or linked to surface arms. Coupling 3DNA to an antibody targeting intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) results in high lung-specific biodistributions in vivo. While the role of individual parameters on ICAM-1 targeting has been studied for other nanocarriers, it has never been examined for 3DNA or in a manner capable of revealing the hierarchic interplay among said parameters. In this study, we used 2-layer vs. 4-layer anti-ICAM 3DNA and radiotracing to examine biodistribution in mice. We found that, below saturating conditions and within the ranges tested, the density of targeting antibodies on 3DNA is the most relevant parameter driving lung targeting over liver clearance, compared to the number of antibodies per carrier, total antibody dose, 3DNA dose, 3DNA size, or the administered concentration, which influenced the dose in organs but not the lung specific-over-liver clearance ratio. Data predicts that lung-specific delivery of intercalating (core loaded) drugs can be tuned using this biodistribution pattern, while that of arm-linked (surface loaded) drugs requires a careful parametric balance because increasing anti-ICAM density reduces the number of 3DNA arms available for drug loading.
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    Dual-Intended Deep Learning Model for Breast Cancer Diagnosis in Ultrasound Imaging
    (MDPI, 2022-05-27) Vigil, Nicolle; Barry, Madeline; Amini, Arya; Akhloufi, Moulay; Maldague, Xavier P. V.; Ma, Lan; Ren, Lei; Yousefi, Bardia
    Automated medical data analysis demonstrated a significant role in modern medicine, and cancer diagnosis/prognosis to achieve highly reliable and generalizable systems. In this study, an automated breast cancer screening method in ultrasound imaging is proposed. A convolutional deep autoencoder model is presented for simultaneous segmentation and radiomic extraction. The model segments the breast lesions while concurrently extracting radiomic features. With our deep model, we perform breast lesion segmentation, which is linked to low-dimensional deep-radiomic extraction (four features). Similarly, we used high dimensional conventional imaging throughputs and applied spectral embedding techniques to reduce its size from 354 to 12 radiomics. A total of 780 ultrasound images—437 benign, 210, malignant, and 133 normal—were used to train and validate the models in this study. To diagnose malignant lesions, we have performed training, hyperparameter tuning, cross-validation, and testing with a random forest model. This resulted in a binary classification accuracy of 78.5% (65.1–84.1%) for the maximal (full multivariate) cross-validated model for a combination of radiomic groups.
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    Combinatorial microRNA Loading into Extracellular Vesicles for Increased Anti-Inflammatory Efficacy
    (MDPI, 2022-10-21) Pottash, Alex Eli; Levy, Daniel; Jeyaram, Anjana; Kuo, Leo; Kronstadt, Stephanie M.; Chao, Wei; Jay, Steven M.
    Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have emerged as promising therapeutic entities in part due to their potential to regulate multiple signaling pathways in target cells. This potential is derived from the broad array of constituent and/or cargo molecules associated with EVs. Among these, microRNAs (miRNAs) are commonly implicated as important and have been associated with a wide variety of EV-induced biological phenomena. While controlled loading of single miRNAs is a well-documented approach for enhancing EV bioactivity, loading of multiple miRNAs has not been fully leveraged to maximize the potential of EV-based therapies. Here, an established approach to extrinsic nucleic acid loading of EVs, sonication, was utilized to load multiple miRNAs in HEK293T EVs. Combinations of miRNAs were compared to single miRNAs with respect to anti-inflammatory outcomes in assays of increasing stringency, with the combination of miR-146a, miR-155, and miR-223 found to have the most potential amongst the tested groups.
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    Development of an Endoscopic Auto-Fluorescent Sensing Device to Aid in the Detection of Breast Cancer and Inform Photodynamic Therapy
    (MDPI, 2022-11-11) Gaitan, Brandon; Inglut, Collin; Kanniyappan, Udayakumar; Xu, He N.; Conant, Emily F.; Frankle, Lucas; Li, Lin Z.; Chen, Yu; Huang, Huang-Chiao
    Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer type in women, with it being the second most deadly cancer in terms of total yearly mortality. Due to the prevalence of this disease, better methods are needed for both detection and treatment. Reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) are autofluorescent biomarkers that lend insight into cell and tissue metabolism. As such, we developed an endoscopic device to measure these metabolites in tissue to differentiate between malignant tumors and normal tissue. We performed initial validations in liquid phantoms as well as compared to a previously validated redox imaging system. We also imaged ex vivo tissue samples after modulation with carbonyl cyanide 4-(trifluoromethoxy) phenylhydrazone (FCCP) and a combination of rotenone and antimycin A. We then imaged the rim and the core of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer tumors, with our results showing that the core of a cancerous lesion has a significantly higher optical redox ratio ([FAD]/([FAD] + [NADH])) than the rim, which agrees with previously published results. The mouse muscle tissues exhibited a significantly lower FAD, higher NADH, and lower redox ratio compared to the tumor core or rim. We also used the endoscope to measure NADH and FAD after photodynamic therapy treatment, a light-activated treatment methodology. Our results found that the NADH signal increases in the malignancy rim and core, while the core of cancers demonstrated a significant increase in the FAD signal.
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    Isotope-Assisted Metabolic Flux Analysis: A Powerful Technique to Gain New Insights into the Human Metabolome in Health and Disease
    (MDPI, 2022-11-04) Moiz, Bilal; Li, Andrew; Padmanabhan, Surya; Sriram, Ganesh; Clyne, Alisa Morss
    Cell metabolism represents the coordinated changes in genes, proteins, and metabolites that occur in health and disease. The metabolic fluxome, which includes both intracellular and extracellular metabolic reaction rates (fluxes), therefore provides a powerful, integrated description of cellular phenotype. However, intracellular fluxes cannot be directly measured. Instead, flux quantification requires sophisticated mathematical and computational analysis of data from isotope labeling experiments. In this review, we describe isotope-assisted metabolic flux analysis (iMFA), a rigorous computational approach to fluxome quantification that integrates metabolic network models and experimental data to generate quantitative metabolic flux maps. We highlight practical considerations for implementing iMFA in mammalian models, as well as iMFA applications in in vitro and in vivo studies of physiology and disease. Finally, we identify promising new frontiers in iMFA which may enable us to fully unlock the potential of iMFA in biomedical research.
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    Sample-to-Answer Immuno-Magnetic Assay Using Thermally Responsive Alkane Partitions
    (MDPI, 2022-11-17) Everitt, Micaela L.; Boegner, David J.; White, Ian M.
    To combat pandemics, there is a need for rapid point-of-care diagnostics to identify infected patients and to track the spread of the disease. While recent progress has been made in response to COVID-19, there continues to be a need for point-of-care diagnostics capable of detecting biomarkers—such as antibodies—in whole blood. We have recently reported the development of thermally responsive alkane partitions (TRAPs) for the automation of point-of-care immuno-magnetic assays. Here, we demonstrate the use of TRAPs to enable sample-to-answer detection of antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in whole blood samples. We report a limit of detection of 84 pg/mL, well below the clinically relevant threshold. We anticipate that the TRAP-enabled sample-to-answer immunoassay can be used to track the progression of future pandemics, leading to a more informed and robust clinical and societal response.