Liver cancer is a deadly disease in USA and other countries around the world. Liver injury can occur by chemicals, heavy alcohol usage, and hepatic viral infection. The liver inflammation plays a critical role in contributing to chronic liver injury that can stem from scarring of the liver or cirrhosis. The development of liver cancer occurs following advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis. Our lab studies the cellular and molecular mechanism of HCV-related chronic liver disease. Recently, we identified an immunoregulatory function of exosomes released from HCV-infected cells on driving pro-fibrotic liver microenvironment. Exosomes are small vesicles that promote intercellular communication. As a carrier of biological molecules (proteins, lipids, microRNA), they travel from the site of production to target sites, either in the microenvironment or at distant sites away from their origin to perform their function. We are currently studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which HCV-derived exosomes promote liver fibrosis using both mouse and human systems. Our research program utilizes lab techniques (qRT-PCR, Western blot analysis, confocal microscopy, flow cytometry) essential for investigating the inflammatory signaling pathway. Results of our studies will provide a basis for innovative immunotherapies for liver fibrosis and HCC.
Student will be involved on investigating the role of TGF-beta signaling on the development of liver cancer. Students will participate by carrying out a part of main research project as their own. They will perform the experiments: 1) tissue culture, 2) treatment of agents (example: exosome, virus), 3) collect samples for the analysis by quantitative RT-PCR and Western blot, 4) analyze the outcome of experiments. Students will also read research papers and participate the discussion of Hahn lab meeting. We expect student’s commitment of 10 lab hour per week, including 1 hour lab meeting at 10am on Tuesday (* unless no conflict with class schedule).
It would be ideal to take cell biology class and have a lab experience in learning PCR analysis.
1. Understand inflammatory responses in immune cells triggered by pathogen
2. Learn lab techniques (qRT-PCR, Western blot analysis)
3. Learn about analyzing experimental results in a critical manner