Helen Jingshu Jin

Current title:
MSc Candidate
Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences, Yale-NUS College, Singapore

  • Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto
  • Princess Margaret Cancer Institute, University Health Network

Helen Jin received her bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences from Yale-NUS College (Singapore). She is currently studying Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto and joined our lab in 2019 to pursue her master’s degree.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a disease of the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment that spreads through the BM of affected patients. Interactions between AML cells and the supporting BM microenvironment are essential to cancer maintenance, growth, and chemotherapy resistance. In addition to the important cell-cell interactions, leukemic cells are also bathed in various cytokines and extracellular vesicles while existing in one of the lowest oxygen tension regions of the body. Despite efforts to reproduce these environmental conditions ex vivo, current model systems are still imperfect. Recently the DaCosta lab has developed new intravital murine model that makes it possible to view and monitor BM cavity cells for a few hours at a time, repeatedly, over approximately one month.  My project will use this system to interrogate, in real time and in a physiologically relevant environment, the biology of the leukemic cell – its behaviour, interaction with the BM microenvironment, and response to various therapeutic treatments at cellular and genetic levels.

These are images of leukemic cells in the murine bone marrow captured in a live mouse with a laser-scanning confocal microscope (LSM710, Carl Zeiss). The blood vessels (blue) and leukemic cells are visualized, wherein green indicates hypoxic cancer cells and magenta indicates normoxic cells. The sinusoid lumen is notably hypoxic and cancer progression is associated with significant vasculature remodeling.