The Cancer Imaging Program (CIP) is led by Arthur F. Gmitro, PhD, Professor of Radiology and Optical Sciences and Evan C. Unger, MD, Professor of Radiology. It is supported by a Biotechnology Resource Grant from the Center for Gamma Ray Imaging (5P41EB002035, P.I. Harrison H. Barrett, PhD, renewed in 2014).
The overall goal of the CIP is to use the tremendous power of imaging technologies, imaging methods and imaging applications to help accomplish the primary mission of the UACC, which is to prevent and cure cancer. The CIP seeks to accomplish its goal by: 1) advancing fundamental knowledge in image science as it relates to cancer; 2) developing, applying and validating imaging technologies as tools in the study of basic cancer biology, 3) improving the sensitivity and specificity of early cancer detection through advanced imaging methods; and 4) developing and implementing more effective cancer therapies using imaging biomarkers and image-guidance.
The Cancer Imaging Program has outstanding research projects exploring all of the major types of imaging—nuclear and x-ray imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, optical imaging and ultrasound imaging—as well as the development of advanced imaging contrast agents.
A key component to the Imaging Program is its translational aspects. An interdisciplinary team of researchers works together to take new imaging techniques and discoveries into the clinic. Projects include new ways to measure tumor response by CT, MRI and ultrasound, ways to improve reader efficiency and accuracy and FDA-approved diagnostic imaging agents.
Jennifer Barton, PhD; Arthur Gmitro, PhD; and Raymond Kostuk, PhD, are developing new optical imaging instruments to detect early-stage ovarian cancer. Ranging from optical coherence tomography to confocal microendoscopy to high-resolution holographic endoscopy, the new instruments are designed to provide the gynecologic oncologist with an assortment of new tools to visualize abnormal cells on the surface of the ovary and fallopian tubes.
The Right Treatment
Marty Pagel, PhD, is advancing imaging techniques to allow early assessment of treatments in individual patients. By being able to evaluate therapeutic response early during the course of treatment using a particular type of MRI scan, ineffective therapy can be stopped and an alternative treatment applied. This will save patients from the side effects of ineffective therapies and allow them to receive an effective therapy for their disease.
Radiologist Evan Unger, MD, is testing therapies for hypoxia, or low oxygen, in tumors. Dr. Unger’s focus is finding ways to infuse these tumors with oxygen while reducing potential side effects. In related research, Dr. Unger is developing microbubble technology, a procedure which injects millions of tiny bubbles in a patient’s bloodstream that would act as mirrors for ultrasound or as delivery systems for drugs or oxygen.