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Molecular Functional Imaging Laboratory

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Preclinical Molecular Imaging and Cancer

Molecular imaging provides real time visualization and quantitative measurement abilities of cellular processes at the molecular or genetic level. Important developments in molecular sciences have significantly contributed to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of disease like cancer. As our knowledge of cancer increases, so does the recognition that each tumor is an entity that requires individual characterization to determine its susceptibility to the most appropriate treatments. Here, functional imaging of cancer progression in experimental animal model is beneficial for translating basic research to the clinic. Our research involves miniaturized medical imaging equipments suitable for testing experimental concepts in small animal models, which can be directly translated into imaging-guided clinical applications to serve both cancer diagnosis and personalized therapy.

Among the various non-invasive tools, currently we are using imaging approaches involving positron emitting radioisotope based micro Positron Emission Tomography (microPET), X-ray diffraction based micro Computed Tomography (microCT) and visible range light signals based optical imaging (techniques based on bioluminescence and fluorescence). Biological molecules can be linked directly or indirectly to such signal emitting moieties/ molecules and there in vivo dynamics can be followed using one of these modalities suitable for capturing such signals.

The current focus of my lab is to take advantage of the preclinical imaging tools for understanding various aspects of the cellular processes; we are working on therapeutic evaluation of gene targeted radiotherapy and nanotherapeutics for breast and oral cancers. We are also developing optical imaging based tools for live monitoring of various cellular protein functions such as protein-protein interactions, protein phosphorylation and protease activation etc. Beside the research efforts we foster teaching and training of young researchers in these areas.

Feel the difference the molecular imaging can make in the ‘fight against cancer’!