Innovative Optical Tools to Evaluate Cellular Responses to Anti-Cancer Drugs

For Immediate Release

August 28, 2013

Wausau, WI – Alexandra Jule Walsh, B.E., M.S., a graduate of Vanderbilt University, is a recipient of an American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. (ASLMS) 2013 Research Grant.

Walsh is a student recipient, who conducted research on optical tools to evaluate cellular responses to anti-cancer drugs. The manuscript is titled Optical Metabolic Imaging of Organoid Cultures Derived from Frozen Tissues to Predict Drug Response”. In her research, Walsh discovered that these tools can be used in living tumors to monitor drug efficacy, or in clinical prognostic screens to guide treatment decisions in patients.  

Walsh commented, “The funding from ASLMS will allow direct comparison of these novel technologies on both fresh and frozen tissues to determine if frozen tissues can be used when fresh tissues are unavailable.”

In Walsh’s initial research she found differences in optically-measured metabolism in breast cancer cells that were responsive versus resistant to anti-cancer drugs.  She is currently researching ways to develop auto-fluorescence lifetime technologies for imaging cellular metabolism to investigate the complex relationships between cellular metabolism, oncogene expression, and therapy resistance in breast cancer cells and tissues.

Supporting ASLMS member E. Duco Jansen, Ph.D., who helped oversee the research commented, “Alexandra is investigating metabolic imaging (measuring NADH and FAD fluorescence) as a method of measuring efficacy of cancer drugs. Specifically, her ASLMS-funded project aims to investigate several freeze/thaw methods for preserving primary tumor tissue without compromising cell viability or metabolic response to cancer drugs. To do this, she is comparing NADH and FAD fluorescence endpoints of organoids derived from fresh primary tumors with those from organoids derived from matched frozen/thawed tissues. She’s conducting this work under supervision of her advisor, Prof. Melissa Skala in our Biomedical Photonics Laboratories.”

E. Duco Jansen, Ph.D., is Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neurosurgery at Vanderbilt University and a faculty member in the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Sciences.

Since 2007, ASLMS has awarded $1.4 million for research projects. These projects are designed to advance the development and use of lasers and other associated technologies in medical and surgical applications.

The grants were funded by net proceeds received from the silent auction held at the 2012 Annual Conference, Industry Advisory Council memberships and member research contributors.

To learn more about these research grant opportunities or to apply visit for details.

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The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. (ASLMS) is the world's largest scientific organization dedicated to promoting research, education and high standards of clinical care in the field of medical laser applications. It provides a forum for the exchange of scientific information and participates in communicating the latest developments in laser medicine and surgery to clinicians, research investigators, government and regulatory agencies, and the public.


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The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery is the largest multi-disciplinary professional organization dedicated to the development and application of lasers and related technology for health care applications. Our mission is to promote excellence in patient care by advancing biomedical application of lasers and other related technologies world wide.  Our vision is to be the world’s preeminent resource for biomedical laser and other energy based technologies, research, education, and clinical knowledge.