Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session
Basic knowledge of cell biology, molecular biology and neuroscience will be beneficial.
At least one of the following courses:
7.05 General Biochemistry
7.28 Molecular Biology
The growth of blood vessels, a process known as angiogenesis, is one of the earliest events in mammalian development and is regulated by a sensitive interplay of growth factors and other molecules. Abnormal or excessive angiogenesis occurs in diseases that include cancer, diabetes and atherosclerosis, whereas insufficient angiogenesis or vessel regression can lead to Alzheimer's disease, ischemic heart disease and impaired wound healing. For this reason, more than $4 billion dollars has been invested in research and development to identify medicines that either promote or reduce the growth of new blood vessels, making angiogenesis one of the most exciting and heavily funded research areas in biomedicine today.
In this course, we will discuss the key molecular regulators of blood vessel development as well as the techniques and experimental systems that have been utilized by vascular biologists. Emphasis will be given to the recent progress made in the microscopic visualization of blood vessels and live cell and intravital imaging used for diagnosis in the clinic. We will also examine the success of several anti-angiogenic treatments that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that inhibit the pro-angiogenic vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF, and that are now being used to treat age-related macular degeneration.
Finally, we will explore how during the course of cancer progression, establishment of a blood supply into a tumor can lead to the growth and spread of cancer cells to secondary sites. We will discuss the caveats and potential pitfalls of targeting tumor blood vessels to starve cancer cells and prevent the spread of cancer, which remains one of the leading causes of death in the USA.
The objectives of this course are:
- Introduce students to the analysis of primary research literature.
- Help students to gain a deeper understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of normal and pathological angiogenesis.
- Introduce the different model systems and techniques (in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro) used by vascular biologists to study angiogenesis.
During our weekly meeting, we will discuss in detail two scientific papers. Our readings will include both historical and recent breakthrough papers.
Meetings will consist of a discussion of two research papers. Students are expected to have read the papers in advance and be prepared to discuss the selected papers in class. At the end of each class, the necessary background to understand the papers for the next session will be provided by the instructors in a 10–15 minute lecture.
This course is graded pass/fail. Grading will depend on student attendance, participation in class discussions and completion of two assignments.
||Visualization of angiogenic sprouting
||Lessons from transgenic mice
||Intravital imaging of zebrafish
||The importance of pericytes and smooth muscle cells
||Angiogenesis in disease and medicine
||The written abstract for a research article (Assignment 1) is due
||Tumor angiogenesis – A historical perspective
||Cutting cancer's supply lines: Targeting the VEGF pathway
||Cutting cancer's supply lines: The example of the angiostatin
||How can anti-angiogenic therapies stimulate rather than inhibit tumor growth and spreading?