MOLECULAR IMAGING & EARLY DETECTION
Conventional imaging is able to detect diseases only when there is a physical/anatomical change. However, as we gain a greater understanding into the molecular pathways which are activated in different diseases, we are now developing molecular probes which can detect these changes at the earliest possible stage, often before there is any gross change. Our research is developing nanoprobes for the early detection of abnormal cells as well as changes that occur in the tissue microenvironment either when diseases start or as they change in response to therapy.
While conventional imaging provides information of organs at an anatomical/macroscopic level, molecular imaging is able to non-invasively identify, monitor and assess treatment responses of diseases at a cellular/molecular level. By designing novel probes which can be used across different modalities (i.e. CT, MRI, PET and optical) we can create multi-modal imaging probes that can draw on the positive attributes of each modality to create a more complete picture of the disease process.
Our lab is developing bismuth-based nanoprobes that can be used to label MSCs so we can assess their biodistribution and track their homing following different routes of administration, especially using x-rays which is how MSCs can be given using endovascular approaches under fluoroscopic guidance. We have also developed mesoporous silica/gold core nanoprobes that can be detected with Raman Spectroscopy, which can measure oxidative stress; this probe when functionalized can target specific epitopes overexpressed on the surface of target cells.