2010 - Transplantomics and Biomarkers in Transplantation

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Presenter: Christopher, Contag, Stanford, USA
Authors: Christopher Contag

Christopher Contag, Co-Director, Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics and of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University, Stanford, 
Learning Objectives:
1. Participants should learn the strengths and limitations of the various imaging modalities used to study transplantation biology.
2. Participants should learn about optical imaging and the opportunities for advancing transplantation biology.
3. The molecular basis of how several mediators of successful tissue and cell engraftment enable long term survival will be identified and the participants should understand the basic mechanisms.
Tissue and cell transplantation hold tremendous potential for the development of new therapeutic strategies, however the nature of these tissues and cells that make them so valuable, also makes them very difficult to study. The development of imaging tools that enable visualization of the fates and function or transplants will accelerate and refine studies in transplantation biology. In stem cell therapies the aim is to transfer relatively small numbers of undifferentiated cells that then sense the tissue environment and respond with a directed proliferation into a large number of cells dedicated to a specific function. Therefore to study these processes effectively, tools need to be used that have a broad dynamic range to initially detect small numbers of cells in vivo and then monitor the tremendous cellular expansion and differentiation associated with tissue restoration. This requires the use of molecular markers that are linked to cellular metabolism, are replicated during the cellular proliferation such that the signals are not diluted or lost, and that are stable during the differentiation process with tolerance to significant changes in cell physiology. These signals need to be detected externally and monitored temporally. The emerging technologies in the field of molecular imaging have been used for these purposes and are providing new insights into stem cell and transplantation biology.

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