University of Michigan
Researchers and pharmaceutical companies use a process known as high-throughput screening to determine whether existing drugs and therapies that were developed to treat one kind of illness could be used to treat other illnesses as well.
This is a way of getting treatments to market more efficiently so they can help patients sooner while maximizing the benefits of the research that went into developing the treatment. Improvements to high-throughput screening could be particularly important to ensuring the sustainability of Canada’s universal health care system.
Christopher Moraes is working to improve the process by combining biology and engineering to create mechanically realistic, three-dimensional cell culture environments for testing drugs and therapies. These will serve as alternatives to animal models and would make high-throughput screening more efficient. Moraes, winner of NSERC’s 2012 Howard Alper Postdoctoral Prize, will use microtechnology and biomedical engineering to create the artificial cell culture environments.
One potential application of his research is to evaluate models that are required for cancer drug screening. As part of this effort, he will strive to create improved artificial cell culture environments to examine realistically how ovarian cancer cells respond to chemotherapeutic agents. Dr. Moraes, who completed his Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, is conducting his research at the Takayama lab, part of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the newly established Biointerfaces think tank at the University of Michigan.