Cell line engineering
Biotechnology faculty have extensive experience in mammalian cell culture and manipulating cells for a variety of applications. Joan Shellard has particular expertise in engineering CHO and HEK-293 cell lines for high level recombinant protein production (e.g. to generate biologics, such as monoclonal antibodies). With funding from an NSERC Engage Grant, Biotech collaborated with iProgen Biotech Inc, an early-stage biotechnology company focused on development of an intracellular protein delivery technology. They assisted iProgen by producing sufficient quantities of their candidate protein therapeutics for pre-clinical testing. A collaboration with Novation Pharma will involve the generation of monocyte-macrophage cell lines to investigate the mechanism-of-action for known modulators of messenger RNA stability.
Cell-based assays for inflammation research
Chronic inflammation has been linked to the development of a number of human illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Inflammation arises from an immune response. One of the primary cell types involved in coordinating the inflammatory response is the macrophage, which responds to inflammatory stimuli by producing cytokines (e.g. tumour necrosis factor-α), lipid mediators (e.g. prostaglandins) and chemicals (e.g. reactive oxygen species) that further promote inflammation. Expression of these pro-inflammatory factors is often controlled by the “master regulator” of inflammation, Nuclear FactorκB (NFκB), which gets “switched on” in the activated macrophage. Dampening the inflammation that initiates or sustains these illnesses may be a viable option for their prevention and treatment.
Biotech faculty can design and perform several cell-based assays to identify compounds that have the potential to intervene in the inflammatory processes described above. Specifically, they are able to analyze the molecular profiles of macrophage cell lines for the anti- or (pro-) inflammatory potential of a given compound(s), and can further evaluate these compounds in specific disease models to determine their potential efficacy in the prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses with an inflammatory component. To this end, they are collaborating with the Natural Products Research Group at BCIT to identify Natural Health Products with anti-inflammatory potential.