Leadership Distinguished Lecture Series: Engineering High-Throughput 3D Platform for Targeting Gliablastome Multiforme Vasculature and Molecular Profiling

Date(s) - 03/30/2015
4:00 pm

Metin Akay, Ph.D., John S. Dunn Endowed Chair and Professor, Biomedical Engineering, University of Houston


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and malignant primary brain tumor in adults because of its highly invasive behavior. The existing treatment for GBM, which involves a combination of resection, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, has a very limited success rate with a median survival rate of less than 1 year. This is mainly because of the failure of early detection and effective treatment. To increase the chance of survival time of patients with malignant brain tumors, many novel therapeutics have been proposed and used in clinics including immunotherapy, stem cell therapy. In addition to these therapies, anti-angiogenic therapies have been explored as promising innovative therapeutic tool for the GBM tumors.

Our goal is to design a novel three-dimensional (3D) GBM cell culture platform that could mimic in vivo environment and help to bypass the lack of suitable animal models for preclinical toxicity tests. In this study, we focus on the design of a novel 3D platform to better control GBM (U-87) cell spheres and co-culture Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial cells (HUVEC) and U-87 cells in PEGDA microwells to make the GBM spheres more realistic. Our results showed that the GBM cells cultured within microwells maintain their viability and when co-cultured with normal cells potentially mimic in vivo tumor behavior.

We believe that in vitro 3D cell culture model could help to reduce the time of the preclinical brain tumor growth studies. The proposed novel platform would also provide a novel approach to selectively suppress tumor growth and angiogenesis. Furthermore, these methods of aptamer selection and nanoparticle assembly offer a rapid and highly specific development of new-targeted treatment for cancer, paving the way for truly “personalized” cancer intervention.

Brief Bio:

Prof. Metin Akay is currently the founding chair of the new Biomedical Engineering Department and the John S. Dunn professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Houston. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey in 1981 and 1984, respectively and a Ph.D. degree from Rutgers University in 1990.

He is the founding editor-in-chief of the Biomedical Engineering Book Series published by the Wiley and IEEE Press and the Wiley Encyclopedia of Biomedical Engineering. He is also the editor of the Neural Engineering Handbook published by Wiley/IEEE Press and the first steering committee chair of the IEEE Trans on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. He established the Annual International Summer School on Biocomplexity and Biodesign  from Gene to System sponsored by the NSF and the IEEE EMBS and was the founding chair of the IEEE EMBS Special Topic Conference on Neural Engineering.

He is also the chair of the IEEE EMBS Neuroengineering Technical Committee. He was the program chair of the International IEEE EMBS 2001 and the co-chair of the Annual International IEEE EMBS 2006 and the program co-chair of the Annual International IEEE EMBS 2011 conference held in Boston.

Dr. Akay is a recipient of the IEEE EMBS Early Career and Service awards as well an IEEE Third Millenium Medal and is a fellow of IEEE, the Institute of Physics (IOP), the American Institute of Medical Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). His Neural Engineering and Informatics Lab is interested in developing an intelligent wearable system for monitoring motor functions in Post-Stroke Hemiplegic Patients and detecting coronary artery disease. In addition, his lab is currently investigating the effect of nicotine on the dynamics of ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine neural networks as well as the detection of coronary occlusions.