The laboratory of Dr. Yang Liu, and Associate Professor of Bioengineering focuses on developing personalized approaches to improve early cancer detection. Current clinical practice relies on a one-shoe-fits-all-approach, which screens the entire at-risk population to identify a small percentage of truly high-risk patients, as with colonoscopy and mammography. Frequent, invasive surveillance of patients at risk for developing cancer carries financial, physical, and emotional burdens and can do more harm than good to the patients.
Given that nuclear architecture is one of the hallmarks in cancer diagnostics, our premise is based on nanoscale nuclear architecture mapping to identify earlier and more accurate markers and understand the characteristic alteration of nanoscale (i.e., less than 100 nm) nuclear architecture in cancer initiation and progression. Current tools to visualize nuclear architecture are mostly limited to microscale.
Our multi-disciplinary team integrates optics, physics, engineering, bioinformatics, chemistry, biology and clinical medicine, and develops imaging technologies to address this highly unmet clinical need. Our current projects include: (1) Development of clinically applicable imaging technology for high-throughput nanoscale nuclear architecture mapping (nanoNAM) of clinical samples to predict early-cancer progression in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Barrett’s esophagus and breast pre-cancerous lesions prior to the detection of clinically significant lesions; (2) Development of high-throughput super-resolution fluorescence nanoscopy (STORM, PALM) for nanoscale imaging of chromatin organization and epigenetics in cancer initiation and progression; (3) Development of 3D super-resolution fluorescence nanoscopy for imaging thick tissue.