Translational Cancer Research
Cancer is a topic which touches many. In this fight, the researchers of the Virginia Tech - Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences employ many tools. Treatments using electroporation and microfluidics battle cancers such as glioblastoma. Diagnosis and treatment planning are being developed using existing and emerging technologies.
The Micro/NanoScale Biotic/Abiotic Systems Engineering Laboratory research interest is in experimental and theoretical investigation of phenomena at the interface of biological and synthetic systems (or bio-hybrid engineering) at the micro and nanoscale. Current research activities can be divided into two broad categories: (1) Developing bio-hybrid engineered systems in which biological components are utilized for actuation, sensing, communication, and control (e.g. bacteria-enabled autonomous drug delivery systems for cancer therapy) (2) Studying mechanism of adhesion, motility and sensing in mammalian cells and unicellular microorganisms (e.g. effect of surface nanotopography on fungal biofilm formation).
Davalos’ research interests are in developing minimally invasive techniques to treat cancer, engineering approaches to create tissue scaffolds for regenerative medicine, and microfluidic-based approaches for detecting cancer and precision medicine.
Our lab’s focus is on advancing micro- and nanotechnologies towards translational applications. This is pursued in two central directions. First, we develop novel measurement strategies using the solid-state nanopore platform: a fabricated nanodevice capable of probing individual biomolecules electrically. With this, we are able to detect a range of biomarkers of disease, including target nucleic acid sequences, epigenetic modifications, and agents of autoimmune disorders like Celiac’s disease. Second, we combine 3D cell culture techniques with microfluidic delivery systems. Here, we are uncovering the biology of cancer progression and metastasis, and building towards patient-specific drug screening.
I develop and test novel treatments for brain cancers using dogs with naturally occurring brain tumors as a translational model.
In the Verbridge Laboratory for Integrative Tumor Ecology (LITE), we take a highly interdisciplinary approach to both understanding cancer progression, and developing novel targeted therapies. Our current NIH-supported research is focused on two key topics: 1) leveraging the altered physical properties of tumor tissues, particularly the altered electrical capacitance of malignant cells, to enable their preferential destruction, and 2) analyzing the role of tissue-resident bacteria in regulating tumor cell stress response during tumor development and therapy. The overarching theme running through this work is the development of cutting edge tissue engineered models of the tumor microenvironment to analyze key processes and interactions which would be intractable in vivo.
Development of theranostic agents for brain tumor diagnosis and treatment. Development of image-guided drug delivery system to cross the BBB to treat brain tumors.
- Masoud Agah, “Cancer detection & therapy, electrobiology”
- YongWoo Lee, "Cancer imaging and treatment"
- Chang Lu, "Epigenetics and cell signaling, nanomedicine delivery"
- Debbie Kelly, “Biophysics”
- Scott Verbridge, "Electrical hallmarks of cancer"
- Thaddeus Wadas, "PET and contrast agent development"
- John Rossmeisl, "Novel therapeutics for malignant glioma and central nervous system cancers"
- Guohua Cao, "Image-guided radiation therapy"
- Adam Hall, "Sensitive detection of disease biomarkers"