This is Linda McDonald and I am the NSH poster committee chair on behalf of the age. I am excited to share with you the 2019 NSH poster podcast Series this program features live interviews with NSH poster presenters that shared their science and research during the 45th annual NSH Symposium convention. We help each episode will give you the chance to learn more about the exciting work being done across the field of histotechnology. Even if you are not able to be with us at New Orleans. Thanks to the new digital format of the posters, sponsored in part by the Journal of histotechnology, NSH members also have access to a PDF copy of each poster via the block. Thanks for listening and enjoy.
Luis: Hi, this is Luis Chiriboga I am here with Lucas Bennink from [helix or] 3Helix Incorporated. We're going to talk about his poster which is "In situ imaging of tissue remodeling with collagen hybridizing peptides". And my first question to you is how did you get engaged in doing this type of research?
Luke: When I was in grad school I was looking to find an interesting area that kind of melds my engineering background with my interest in life sciences and I ended up meeting my professor and he was doing these peptide works and I've never heard of peptides and I got to talking to him application peptides is far wide-reaching and we sat down and got talking about it, you know collagen is the number one coaching the body and we thought there's going to be plenty of cool applications and I can get my hands dirty and it seemed like a perfect marriage between my engineering background and my desire to go into life sciences.
Luis: So if you had to give advice to someone who was interested on the more technical level, or technical staff level, if you had to give some advice to someone, and I'm assuming you have your PhD, how would you guide someone and giving them suggestions to be able to do some basic research to try to understand what's going on in their laboratory outside of what you're doing here in your poster.
Luke: I would say do literature searches. I mean that was a big part of my PhD work was. You know, you have an idea, you get a little bit of guidance from other lab mates, post-docs what have you and you know the bulk of it is reading other papers and seeing what research is being done and [you know] trying to connect the dots between an interesting idea and a need and trying to explore that space.
Luis: So, what would you say is, you know, just in a very brief way, what's the significance of the findings within your poster?
Luke: Well we are really excited about it because it's a unique way to target an unstructured protein. A lot of the stains out there for IHC focus on a defined 3D epitope from the protein structure. And our peptide is able to target denatured collagen, which is a denatured protein, and it does it with really high specificity. What we're really excited about with the results is the wide-reaching applications that we can apply it to. For instance, you can do fibrosis, inflammation, multiple myeloma. You can stain unlimited number of tissue types, because collagen is in all mammals and in all organs and our peptide is able to target all of it. And so right now it's just a matter of narrowing down our scope.
Luis: So, have you tested it in other species across a broad spectrum or you guys still in the process?
Luke: We have tested it in mice, in rats, and we've done a bunch of human tissue sections. We're looking now to expand on that still. So, I mean, we haven't done any like, primate work, but [you know] so far small animals has been working. We've done couple zebrafish models. So, we've been able to be successful in a lot of these animal models.
Luis: So, you know, it's kind of obvious question, but was was this a huge surprise for you when you were doing this research work or was it almost expected and it was just a matter of going through the process?
Luke: It was expected, but what we found is, you know, it is so specific for denatured Collagen, that if it's damaged. I mean, it could be damaged mechanically, thermally, enzymatically, if it's damaged our peptide will target it. And now it's just a matter of going through the process and doing some validation.
Luis: So, have you looked at your, at this target, I'm assuming the specifically denatured collagen in any disease states or is that something that you're looking to try and do.
Luke: Yea, we've actually looked at multiple myeloma. We've looked at fibrosis, liver fibrosis, glomerulonephritis, myocardial infarctions, mechanically stretched rat tail fascicles. It's like I said, it's a wide-reaching application.
Luis: So, understanding the application and being able to detect this is obviously important, but what are the implications biologically or medically for damage collagen per se?
Luke: We are exploring that space right now. That's what is exciting for us, we would like to be able to have a stain and give it to the clinician and have them use our stain and be like, oh, okay I can tell that because there is x amount of denatured collagen in here. I can maybe stage this disease is Stage 2. The other thing that would be interesting to see is how it correlates with other Imaging modalities or we'd like to do more clinically relevant modalities in terms of MRI micro-ct so you can have this non-invasive, highly specific marker that clinicians can then use to make proper diagnosis. That's the pie-in-the-sky goal, we're still a little bit away from that, but that's the direction we're trending.
Luis: So, would it be safe to say that you guys are looking for collaborators to explore the space?
Luke: Absolutely. Yeah. We're experts in the peptide, we're experts in the peptide synthesis and the applications, but we're not experts in developing his animal models. The disease states that could be helpful for is so wide, that we are really looking for collaborators to [you know] come up with good ideas or say: Hey, we think this might be the perfect tool to use and help us [you know] understand either the microstructure or the cool environment or [you know] if it tells you something different than what currently other biomarkers can tell you on the market.
Luis: I'm assuming on the follow-up project to all of this will be what you just basically described, right?
Luke: Yeah, we're definitely trying to narrow down our applications. Where I mean, that's an exciting time to be part of the company and you know it at the right time, but [you know] we're always looking for collaborators and Partnerships.
Luis: And where you guys based out of?
Luke: We're based out of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Luis: So when somebody goes over and takes a look at your poster or what were the take-home message(s) that you want them to take home in terms of understanding what your goals are in terms of developing the product, but what would be a take-home message if you would want them to have? That this is...?
Luke: This is a specific probe for damaged collagen and its specific for all types of denatured collagen and the total collagen family. It's not species-specific so it can be used throughout and that's what we really want them to take away. is that It can be used for a lot applications that we don't even know. So that's where we're really looking for collaborations for you to tell us and come with us and be like hey, have you thought about this? It has collagen, it might be damaged, it might tell us something interesting and that's what we're looking for.
Luis: I mean being a researcher by training. What would you say is the most important thing that you would recommend to someone who doesn't have a lot of experience when they come to time to prepare a poster?
Luke: I would say look at all your data again, there's a story in there. I'm sure. It's just a matter of teasing it out and you know completing a story. and you know, if you're still new to research, just starting helps. Just the hardest step is the first step. But once you get going, you know progress begets progress, and eventually you'll have a nice poster to present.
Luis: Anything else you want to throw in there?
Luke: Yeah, we're just looking for collaborations. So please feel free to contact us and visit our website, 3Helix, and we have LinkedIn page. We're always open for collaborations. We want to hear what you guys are excited about it. We want to be a part of it and let us know how we can help.
Luis: Thank you Lucas. It was a pleasure interviewing you. Look forward to speaking to you.
Luke: Thank you so much.
In conclusion, I would like to thank you for taking the time to listen to this episode of the 2019 NSH poster podcast series. Hope to see you in Reno, cha-ching.