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By Haley Dion, VI Form
Unique Advances in Transplant Research with Hydractinia
Transplantation is the future of medicine. It is an ever-evolving field of research. For three weeks this summer, I was given the opportunity to take part in the research by interning at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplant Institute. At the institute, I worked in the Nicotra Lab under the mentorship of Dr. Matthew Nicotra. The Nicotra Lab is one of the Stuart K. Patrick Research Laboratories at the Institute named after St. Mark’s alumnus, Stuart K. Patrick ’57. The lab I worked in is unique because it works with an organism that is very rarely used in research: Hydractinia
Hydractinia are invertebrates that live on hermit crab shells. These organisms are part of the cnidarian species, and they grow as colonies. Hydractinia grow mat tissue, which is the base of their colony. Within the mat, there are gastrovascular canals that allow cells to flow throughout the colony. Some Hydractinia have stolons, branched stem-like structures, that extend from their mat. Hydractinia also have polyps that protrude from the top of their mat. These polyps are tubes surrounded by tentacles that are used to consume food. In addition to the polyps that help the Hydractinia eat, there are reproductive polyps that can be used to tell whether the colony is male or female. This image illustrates the development of a Hydractinia embryo to a colony. The image shows what an adult polyp looks like, in addition to both the male and female sexual polyps. (more…)
By Sophie Haugen, VI Form
A New Reality for Cancer Patients
“No radiation. No Chemo. No Cancer.” These are the words on the sign hanging from the window of the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Partway through my fifth form year in Advanced Biology, Jack Thalmann and I were fortunate enough to be selected for internship positions at a cutting-edge research lab for one month of the coming summer.
This past August, we traveled to Seattle and lived in Magnolia, an urban-residential neighborhood located a few miles north of downtown Seattle, with Max (‘72) and Marcia Witter. Each day we commuted to the Ben Towne Center and worked in the Jensen Lab, which focuses on immunotherapy as a treatment for pediatric cancer. Dr. Michael Jensen (‘82), the director of the Center, has made remarkable strides and has achieved some incredible success. Dr. Jensen and the staff at the Jensen Lab take an innovative approach to fighting cancer: they collect blood samples from pediatric cancer patients, genetically engineer the patient’s own T-cells to recognize cancer cells, and infuse the treatment back into the patient’s body. (more…)