The following are recent instances of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine and Wellman Center researchers being covered by the media.

2014 ECOR Deliberative Interim Support Funding

Congratulations to Tianhong Dai, PhD for receiving the award fpr funding from the ECOR Deliberative Interim Support.

Tianhong Dai, Ph.D.


Award: ECOR Deliberative Interim Support Funding

Project Title:
Blue Light for Drug Resistant Skin and Soft Tissue Infections

Specific Aims:
Skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI) are one of the most common problems encountered in clinical practice and affect millions of individuals annually in the United States. These infections may range from uncomplicated superficial SSTI to life-threatening complicated deep SSTI. Treatment of SSTI has been significantly compromised by the increasing emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogenic bacteria. As a result, there is a pressing need for the development of new therapeutic approaches. The objective of this proposal is to investigate the utility of a non-antibiotic approach, antimicrobial blue light therapy, for multidrug-resistant SSTI.
Successful completion of the project will provide the foundation required to assess the efficacy (Aim 1) as well as the potential side effects (Aim 2) of antimicrobial blue light therapy for SSTI, and will help establish protocols for the use of this prophylaxis/therapeutic option. Given the significant drawbacks in current management of multidrug-resistant SSTI, this new technology using blue light exhibits great potential.


2014 Bullock-Wellman Fellowship Award Recipients
The Wellman Center for Photomedicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital is pleased to annouce the recipients to the 2014 Bullock-Wellman Postdoctoral Fellowship Award for research aimed at understanding and solving important biomedical problems.

Girgis Obaid, PhD

Project Title: A multifunctional drug delivery system for image-guided combination of PDT and anti-angiogenic agent in an in vivo glioblastoma model

Abstract: The goal of this research is to evaluate a new combination therapy for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) where one therapy sensitizes the tumor to the other, thus producing an overall enhanced treatment outcome. Of all primary malignant gliomas and tumors of the central nervous system diagnosed, the most common (54.4%) and deadliest form is GBM. Five-year survival rates of GBM do not exceed 5% and the median patient survival rates are 12-15 months.1-3

Front-line treatments for GBM including surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy; however their effect on prognosis of aggressive gliomas such as GBM remains modest.1

The research plan proposes to utilize powerful imaging techniques to probe the outcome of a PDT-based combination treatment aimed at simultaneously controlling angiogenesis, a major factor in GBM related mortality.

(1) Wen, P. Y.; Kesari, S. N Engl J Med 2008, 359, 492.
(2) Jain, R. K.; di Tomaso, E.; Duda, D. G.; Loeffler, J. S.; Sorensen, A. G.; Batchelor, T. T. Nat Rev Neurosci 2007, 8, 610.
(3) Ostrom, Q. T.; Gittleman, H.; Farah, P.; Ondracek, A.; Chen, Y.; Wolinsky, Y.; Stroup, N. E.; Kruchko, C.; Barnholtz‐Sloan, J. S. Neuro Oncol 2013, 15 Suppl 2, ii1.

Toshihiko Oki, MD, PhD  

Project Title: Defining the relationship of microanatomic location, quiescence and drug resistance in AML

Abstract: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common adult acute leukemia with a high relapse rate. Treatment-resistant AML is uniformly fatal and to overcome drug resistance to prevent relapse is indispensable for improving long term outcome of the disease. Several reports have indicated that the quiescent, non cycling, population of AML cells is drug resistant and that the external supports from the bone marrow microenvironment (niche) are important for the maintenance of quiescence (G0 phase) of AML cells. However, the localization of their niche and how the niche regulates the cell cycle and drug resistance of AML cells have not been clearly shown, especially by using syngeneic immunocompetent mice.

The goal of this proposal is to clarify the link between AML drug resistance and cell cycle and to understand which interactions between AML cells and their microenvironment influence their cell cycle status. We have developed a novel realtime cycle indicator system for quiescent cells. Our novel indicator system does not require fixation of the cells or long-term chasing periods as the other methods to detect quiescent cells and it effectively labels Ki-67 negative quiescent cells. In this proposal, we will investigate localization, cell cycle status, and drug response of AML cells by using the novel realtime cell cycle indicator system in combination with state-of-art in vivo imaging, live cell sorting and immunohistochemistry. This work will be conducted with collaborations between laboratories of Dr. Charles P Lin and my mentor Dr. Scadden.

Giovanni Ughi, PhD  

Project Title: Clinical translation of dual modality intravascular imaging for the assessment of coronary artery disease: combination of optical frequency domain imaging (OFDI) with near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF)

Abstract: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men >35 years old in the United States of America. Direct and indirect costs were estimated to be >300 billion dollars per year in the United States only and constantly increasing. Intravascular OFDI is rapidly becoming the method of choice for the investigation of atherosclerosis, which is the main cause of heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. Although intravascular OFDI is capable of visualizing vessel wall microstructure and intraluminal objects (e.g., stent struts and intracoronary thrombus) in great detail, the combination with near infrared fluorescence (NIRF), enabling for the simultaneous acquisition of complementary cellular and molecular functional information, may greatly enhance its clinical utility. As a matter of fact, dual-modality OFDI-NIRF may allow for the first time to simultaneously acquire co-localized information of vessel wall microstructure, composition and functionality (e.g., inflammatory activity) in vivo, holding an enormous potential for an improved understanding and management of the coronary artery disease.

The focus of this project is the development and the clinical translation of catheters and systems for dual modality OFDI-NIRF intravascular imaging performing the first-in-human pilot study.


CIMIT Grant Award for Tianhong Dai, PhD
Tianhong Dai, PhD  

Title: Blue Light for Prophylaxis and Treatment of Multidrug-Resistant Combat-Related Wound Infections
Source and type of award: 2014 Innovation Grants, Center for Integration of Medicine & Innovative Technology (CIMIT)
Award dates: 01/01/2014-12/31/2015
Brief summary of specific aim(s): The goal of this pilot project is to test the utility of a novel non-antibiotic approach, antimicrobial blue light (405-470nm) therapy, for combat-related wound infections, especially those caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria. Antimicrobial blue light therapy is characterized by inactivating pathogenic microorganisms without the involvement of exogenous photosensitizers and has much fewer side effects than germicidal ultraviolet irradiation. The efficacy of blue light will be evaluated by illuminating blue light to burns, open fractures, or surgical wounds in rodents infected with multidrug-resistant P. aeruginosa, A. baumannii, K. pneumoniae, or S. aureus, which are the pathogens most frequently identified in combat-related wounds. Bioluminescence imaging will be used to monitor in real time the extent of infection in vivo. The potential genotoxic effects of blue light on host cells will be assessed by using the alkaline comet assay after irradiation of normal rodent skin.