Many cancer researchers could not function without sophisticated equipment that helps them with such critical procedures as sequencing genes, sorting and characterizing individual cells, bioimaging, microscopy and data collection, to name just a few.
Approximately 17 percent of funding from the Pelotonia rides is dedicated to bringing the world’s most advanced technology to the OSUCCC – James to support the needs of cancer researchers. Maintaining state-of-the-art technology is critical for our scientists to remain competitive in the fight against cancer.
2015 Tools for Discovery
Instruments of Progress
A Mass Spectrometry Upgrade
The Orbitrap FusionTM and Quantiva mass spectrometers are among the newest equipment purchased with support from Pelotonia funds. The funds were contributed by the OSUCCC – James to an Ohio State and state of Ohio investment in a major upgrade and expansion of OSU’s mass spectrometry and proteomics capabilities.
Mass-spectrometers are used in cancer research to better understand cancer-cell biology. The instruments are needed, for example, to identify the quantity and characteristics of proteins in tumor and normal tissues. The new mass spectrometers were purchased for the Proteomics Shared Resource (SR), which provides this critical technology and expertise for OSUCCC – James researchers and the cancer-research community across Ohio.
The Proteomics SR is part of the Campus Chemical Instrument Center that is managed by Ohio State’s Office of Research and the OSUCCC – James.
Proteomics SR Director Michael Freitas, PhD, a member of the Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics Program at the OSUCCC – James, says the sophisticated new mass spectrometers will enable researchers to identify compounds faster, more accurately and more thoroughly.
Vicki Wysocki, PhD, an Ohio Eminent Scholar in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in Ohio State’s College of Arts and Sciences, and senior faculty adviser to the Proteomics SR, says the ongoing mass spectrometry upgrade/expansion has involved the purchase of several state-of-the-art instruments for measurements, and they include sample robots for high-throughput applications.
These new instruments are housed in the Campus Chemical Instrument Center, which was founded in 1981 as a unit of the OSU Office of Research to provide research facilities for the entire campus in three areas: NMR spectrometry, mass spectrometry and proteomics, and macromolecular X-ray crystallography.
“The Center is an interdisciplinary unit serving faculty from the colleges of Arts and Sciences; Education and Human Ecology; Engineering; Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; Medicine; Optometry; Pharmacy; Veterinary Medicine; and Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, to name a few,” Wysocki says.
She notes that the Center also is a hub for the Ohio Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Ohio Mass Spectrometry MR consortiums, providing researchers in colleges and universities throughout Ohio with access to the Center’s facilities.
The Microscopy Shared Resource (MSR) at the OSUCCC – James also benefitted from Pelotonia dollars in the same round of funding with the purchase of a $400,000 microscope to perform sophisticated live cell imaging. The MSR, part of the Campus Microscopy and Imaging Facility under the OSU Office of Research, is managed by the OSUCCC and located in Ohio State’s Biomedical Research Tower. The MSR gives researchers access to state-of-the-art microscopes and services ranging from standard light and electron microscopy to live-animal, multiphoton microscopy. MSR experts support high-level cancer research with the latest microscopy techniques.
2014 Tools for Discovery
The OSUCCC – James has contributed Pelotonia dollars to an Ohio State and state of Ohio investment in a significant upgrade and expansion of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) capabilities on Ohio State’s main campus.
Vicki Wysocki, PhD, an Ohio Eminent Scholar in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in Ohio State’s College of Arts and Sciences, says several state-of-the-art instruments for measurements in both solution and solids were purchased and outfitted with a broad range of capabilities, including high-field superconducting magnets, cryogenically cooled measurement probes to optimize sensitivity, and sample robots for high-throughput applications.
“These capabilities are invaluable to cancer researchers at OSU as they will allow them to show the characterization at atomic detail of the structure and conformational dynamics of onco-proteins, their binding to small drugs and potential drug candidates, and the signature of changes in metabolic profiles in cancer during disease and treatment,” adds Rafael Bruschweiler, PhD, an Ohio Research Scholar with joint appointments in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and in the College of Medicine at Ohio State.
Many of the new instruments are housed in Ohio State’s Campus Chemical Instrument Center (CCIC), which was founded in 1981 as a unit of the OSU Office of Research to provide research facilities for the entire campus in three areas: nuclear magnetic resonance, mass spectrometry and proteomics, and macromolecular X-ray crystallography.
“The CCIC is an interdisciplinary unit, servicing faculty from the colleges of Arts and Sciences; Education and Human Ecology; Engineering; Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; Medicine; Optometry; Pharmacy; Veterinary Medicine; and Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, to name a few,” Wysocki says.
She notes that the CCIC also is a hub for the Ohio NMR and Ohio MS Consortiums, providing researchers in colleges and universities throughout Ohio with access to all of the center’s facilities with on-campus user fees.
“In NMR, the existing 600 and 800 MHz instruments in the Riffe Building have recently been upgraded with new consoles, and a 700 MHz instrument has been installed in the same location as part of the overall upgrade,” Wysocki says, adding that installation of an 850 MHz instrument has begun in the new Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and Chemistry building, a second location of CCIC NMR. “That instrument will be joined by several other new instruments in the coming months.”
2013 Tools for Discovery
Pelotonia Funds Help Purchase Sophisticated Technology and Preserve Priceless Tissue Samples
Progress in cancer research – the process of moving from an observation made in the laboratory or clinic to discoveries that help patients – requires expensive technology and priceless biological samples such as tumor tissue and blood from patients. These samples must be stored under stringent conditions to preserve the fragile molecules their cells contain.
Pelotonia funds this past year were used in both areas. They supported the purchase of instruments that help decode cancer genomes, and a system that helps keep precious tissue samples viable for research. These examples of equipment purchased in 2013 with support from Pelotonia can benefit the more than 300 investigators at the OSUCCC – James.
SCICLONE NGS WORKSTATION
The Sciclone NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) Workstation fits on the laboratory bench and can robotically prepare batches of cancer samples for high-throughput genome sequencing. Genome sequencing reveals how cancer hijacks normal cell functions via mutations and other structural changes in DNA and RNA.
The device helps convert long lengths of DNA extracted from cancer cells into short pieces that are readable by high-throughput sequencers. The resulting collection of DNA fragments is called a sequencing library.
To generate a sequencing library, scientists first extract DNA from cancer cells, break it into fragments and attach the fragments to tiny metal beads. The goal is to duplicate, or amplify, the number of fragments in preparation for sequencing. Producing high-quality sequencing libraries is a tedious process that can involve more than a dozen steps, each of which must be done with precision.
Enter the robotic device. The instrument uses a magnet to gather the DNA-laden metal beads together, then uses multiple pipette tips to draw off the used solution and replace it with reagent needed for the next step.
The robotic system can prepare eight to 96 samples at a time while ensuring consistency and freeing lab personnel for other tasks.
OSUCCC – James researchers are working to develop protocols needed for particular components of the genome, such as RNA-seq libraries and exome libraries.
DNA sequencing can reveal gene mutations present in cancer cells that influence their growth and might determine the most effective therapy for that particular patient. In addition to gene mutations, other genomic alterations happen to DNA that contribute to cancer development.
Genome sequencing can detect these “epigenetic” changes in tumor and tissue samples by customizing how sequencing libraries are generated. Pelotonia funds were used to help purchase a Diagenode IPStar Compact unit, a robotic device that automates the enrichment of genomic locations for these epigenetic analyses. This device, together with NGS whole-genome sequencing, provides genome-wide profiles of epigenetic modifications and sites on genes where proteins bind to activate them. It can also process up to 96 samples at a time.
Pelotonia funds also helped purchase the REES Enterprise Environmental Monitoring System to ensure that precious tumor tissue and other samples are safely stored, and that experimental conditions are properly maintained.
The system warns users when critical equipment such as freezers, refrigerators, incubators, liquid-nitrogen tanks and cold rooms are at risk. Failure of such equipment can render large numbers of patient and animal samples unusable, and this can translate into years of lost work.
The system monitors critical parameters such as temperature, humidity, oxygen and carbon dioxide.
2012 Tools for Discovery
Approximately $2.6 million in Pelotonia funds have helped bring new laboratories on line in the Biomedical Research Tower and have supported the purchase of scientific instrumentation that is available to OSUCCC – James investigators.
New advanced technology now available to investigators includes two BD FacsAria analytical cytometers that can isolate, identify and sort millions of normal and cancer cells in seconds.
In addition, the acquisition of a SOLiD™ System gene-sequencing platform, as well as a HiSeq™ 2000 Sequencer, gives scientists the capabilities of fully sequencing the genome (DNA) of animals and humans to help identify anomalies that may link to cancer and future treatment options.
Previously, the time to sequence a human genome was measured in years; with this technology it can be done in days.