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Blog > Compresstome Vibrating Microtome Empowers Cutting-Edge Neuroscience Research at University Hospital Würzburg

Compresstome Vibrating Microtome Empowers Cutting-Edge Neuroscience Research at University Hospital Würzburg

Published on May 16, 2024

Leading the charge in innovative neuroscience research is Prof. Carsten Hagemann, heading the Section Experimental Neurosurgery within the Neurosurgery Department at the University Hospital Würzburg, Germany. With a firm commitment to bridging the gap between laboratory discoveries and clinical applications, this section stands at the forefront of translational neuroscience research.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Section Experimental Neurosurgery

Comprising eight research groups, the section thrives on interdisciplinary collaboration, fostering a vibrant exchange of ideas and expertise. Supported by three lab technicians and a cohort of graduate students spanning diverse scientific backgrounds, including medicine, biology, biochemistry, and chemistry, the section is propelled by a passion to improve patients’ treatment in the field of neuro-oncology.

At the heart of the Section Experimental Neurosurgery are two state-of-the-art research laboratories—one dedicated to molecular and cell biology research and the other specializing in immunohistochemistry. These facilities are complemented by two meticulously maintained cell culture laboratories and ancillary support amenities, including extensive sample storage capabilities at various temperatures. Equipped with cutting-edge instrumentation, including advanced microscopy setups, real-time cell analysis systems, and next-generation sequencing technology, the laboratories provide an ideal environment for conducting groundbreaking research.

The Role of the Compresstome Vibratome

Central to the research endeavors of the section is the Compresstome VF-300-0Z Vibrating Microtome, a sliding vibratome from Precisionary Instruments. This precision instrument is instrumental in generating a variety of tissue slice cultures critical for studying neurophysiology and neuropathology. From organotypic hippocampal slice cultures to whole brain slice cultures and patient-derived tumor slice cultures, the Compresstome Vibratome offers unparalleled precision and reliability, empowering researchers to explore the intricacies of the nervous system with unprecedented clarity.

Prof. Carsten Hagemann and his team continue to strive for new insights in neuro-oncology by leveraging cutting-edge technologies like the Compresstome Vibratome.

Figure 1: Prof. Hagemann (left) and part of his team.

Lab’s Primary Research Goals and Areas of Focus

The Section Experimental Neurosurgery at the Neurosurgery Department of the University Hospital Würzburg, Germany, is dedicated to tackling some of the most formidable challenges in neuro-oncology. With a primary focus on glioblastomas, the lab aims to unravel the molecular growth mechanisms underlying these aggressive brain tumors. Despite advancements in therapy, glioblastoma patients still face significant challenges, including high rates of relapse and limited treatment options due to the blood-brain barrier. To address these issues, the lab is actively involved in developing new drug delivery systems tailored for brain cancer treatment. Additionally, the lab’s research extends to other neuro-oncological conditions such as Neurofibromatosis and vestibular schwannomas, alongside investigations into immune therapeutic approaches, clinical neuro-oncology, neurotrauma, and Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) research.

Utilization of the Compresstome Vibratome in Research

At the heart of the research endeavors lies the Compresstome vibratome, an indispensable tool that drives the investigations forward. Leveraging this precision instrument, robust 3-dimensional ex vivo models based on brain slice cultures derived from mice 5-8 days postpartum have been established. These cultures serve as a platform for seeding patient-derived tumor organoids, allowing the simulation of the complex tumor microenvironment and bridging the gap between in vitro and pre-clinical in vivo studies. By utilizing brain slice cultures, the team can explore the physiological interactions and drug responses that occur in vivo, leading to more accurate and translatable research outcomes.

Over the years, the Compresstome vibratome has become an integral part of the methodology, garnering recognition in methodological book chapters and research articles. Studies have demonstrated the versatility of this approach, from evaluating the efficacy of TTFields in glioblastoma to characterizing and optimizing the tumor microenvironment in patient-derived organotypic slices. Most recently, a vestibular schwannoma tumor slice model for pharmacological testing has been developed, further showcasing the Compresstome’s utility in advancing neuro-oncological research.

Figure 2: Precisionary Compresstome Vibratome and instruments required for the generation of tissue slices (A). Brain slices of 350 µm thickness from mice 5-8 days postpartum (B). Hippocampal brain slice cultures as carrier-tissue for patient-derived glioblastoma organoids (green) before (left) and the same slice after 72 h treatment (right). The organoid is reduced in size and shows signs of necrosis (C). (Figure modified from doi 10.3390/cancers14215177)

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