ISOTOPIC MOLECULAR IMAGING LABORATORY (IMIL)
Director: Prof Kishore Bhakoo; Group Leader: Dr Julian L Goggi
The IMIL group uses nuclear imaging techniques to assess biological processes in health and disease. The multi-modality nuclear imaging platforms available in IMIL include the world’s first pre-clinical Mediso 7T simultaneous MRI-PET system, the pre-clinical Mediso 3T MRI-PET system, a Siemens Inveon PET-CT and the Mediso Nano SPECT-CT.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a robust isotopic imaging methodology with unprecedented sensitivity, able to detect radioactive tracers at femtomolar concentrations and forms a core capability of IMIL. PET uses radiopharmaceuticals to assess molecular processes in healthy and pathological conditions, from diagnosis and staging of disease to therapy monitoring and follow-up. PET imaging is a powerful tool for drug discovery and development.
Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) uses gamma emitting radiopharmaceuticals to visualize molecular processes in vivo. SPECT isotopes can exhibit long half-lives allowing longitudinal follow up over days to weeks, for the assessment of biologics, such as antibodies and peptides.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses the ability of the atoms to absorb and emit radio frequency energy when placed in a strong magnetic field to visualise anatomy and assess physiological processes in healthy and pathological conditions.
These non-invasive imaging techniques are currently being employed in SBIC as part of a formidable multimodality platform across diverse projects including the development of novel β-cell imaging agents, assessment of the browning of white adipose tissue, quantification of stem cell therapies in neurological disease and diagnostic and therapeutic strategies in immune-oncology.
Isotopic Molecular Imaging in Oncology
One of the challenges in cancer therapy is the identification of accurate and reproducible biomarkers that allow for the stratification of a patient’s response to treatment. Isotopic imaging is uniquely able to quantify biomarkers associated with cancer development, progress and efficacy of intervention. We are researching novel radiopharmaceuticals to stratify patients to aid rapid and effective therapeutic intervention.
Isotopic Molecular Imaging in Neurology
Non-invasive imaging of the structure and function of the central nervous system are critical to clinical assessment and management. Isotopic imaging allows for the longitudinal assessment of brain function and pharmacology aiding in clinical assessment and therapy management. We are exploring new radiopharmaceuticals to further our understanding of the brain in health, disease and ageing.
Isotopic Molecular Imaging in Regenerative Medicine
Monitoring of cellular grafts, non-invasively, is an important aspect of the ongoing efficacy and safety assessment of cell-based therapies. MR and isotopic imaging methods are well suited for visualization and tracking of cellular graft tissue. We are developing and implementing a programme of molecular imaging in pre-clinical models that is directed towards improving our understanding of stem cell migration and integration in the context of the whole organism.