In the early stages of drug development, researchers perform rigorous screening against samples of disease. Because it would be too risky to administer these drugs to humans, the testing takes place in a culture dish, not inside a person.
For example, cancer researchers can borrow cell lines from a sizable database of cancers, and study it in a lab. But prior to 1995, there was no similar resource for scientists studying dog diseases.
Jaime Modiano, a veterinary clinical scientist at the University of Minnesota, has developed a database of canine cancer cell lines that he estimates to be the largest anywhere: it includes several dozen characterized lines, including melanoma, hemangiosarcoma and osteosarcoma. The lines have since helped nearly 50 labs, on four continents, gain a better understanding of canine cancer.
The samples are taken from sick dogs and sent from across the globe to Modiano’s lab, with consent from the owners, in exchange for a free diagnosis. The samples arrive as live cells and are added to the growing database, which makes it possible for scientists to study cancer in a dish, rather than in a dog.
“We study cancer in dogs for the sake of understanding cancer in dogs, but also to improve our understanding of human cancers,” says Modiano. “Twenty labs can do a lot more than one lab.”
Top research tools
Technologies like the canine cancer cell lines have proven reliable in life sciences research, enabling labs to pursue new research projects while saving time and money.
Both the university community and external research partners can license these tools, which are developed by top U of M researchers, before embarking on a research project. Some of the top-selling tools include:
Monoclonal Antibodies Reactive with Native and Denatured Cytochrome c from Various Species
Developed by Ron Jemmerson
Apoptosis is a cellular process in which cells are programmed to die in an orderly fashion. A prominent mediator in this process is a protein called “cytochrome c.” One of the first monoclonal antibodies against this target was developed at the U of M, and has proven to be invaluable for apoptosis researchers, along with several others developed at the university.
Monoclonal Antibody P1H12
Developed by Robert Hebbel
Endothelial cells make up the innermost lining of all blood vessels. To help identify these cells against a background of all the other cells associated with the vascular system, researchers created a monoclonal antibody which specifically binds these cells. This technology allows for a more accurate identification and purification of endothelial cells by researchers in the field.
Monoclonal Antibodies Against CD-40 and CD-24
Developed by Tucker LeBien
The immune system is tightly regulated by the cross-talk between various cell populations. CD40 is a cell surface protein that is prominent in the activation of lymphocytes required to fight off pathogens. LeBien created a monoclonal antibody that recognizes CD40, enabling researchers to more fully explore its role in this process.
Want a complete, printable and easy-to-scan listing of these tools? Download the Office for Technology Commercialization’s new Research Tools Catalog (pdf).
The catalog includes descriptions and scientific literature citation for antibodies, transgenic mice, cell lines, biomarkers and more. The tools are also listed on the OTC’s marketing website.