Jeff W. M. Bulte, Ph.D.
The clinical development of novel immune and stem cell therapies calls for suitable methods that can follow the fate of cells non-invasively in humans at high resolution. The Bulte lab has pioneered methods to label cells magnetically (using tiny superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles) in order to make them visible by MR imaging (Click here). Following years of extensive animal research, this technology has recently been introduced in the clinic for dendritic cell cancer vaccines. MRI cell tracking is further pursued in animal models of dysmyelination, multiple sclerosis (with Ben-Hur) , brain tumors, spinal cord (Click here) stroke (Click here), and myocardial infarct (with Kraitchman). Novel reporter genes are also being developed that can provide contrast on MRI scans. Artificial proteins are being designed, cloned, and expressed in mammalian cells that contain specific proton exchangable groups of which the proton signal can be manipulated (with van Zijl). A new direction is not directly labeling cells, but instead labeling semi-permeable microcapsules (Click here) that offer immunoprotection of cellular therapeutics (Click here) The current focus is on encapsulated pancreatic beta cells that can cure diabetes in mice and are being used in a large animal (swine) model. While the lab is doing basic bench-type research, there is a strong interaction with the clinical interventional radiology (Arepally) and oncology (Levitsky) groups in order to bring the methodologies into the clinic.