Molecular and Functional Imaging
Since magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has a formidable array of capabilities to characterize function and can provide a wealth of spatio-temporal information on the tumor microenvironment, it is well-suited to investigating a complex disease such as cancer. We have developed molecular and functional imaging techniques for revealing key aspects of the tumor microenvironment such as angiogenesis (Kim et al. 2013), lymphangiogenesis (Pathak et al. 2004), the extracellular matrix (Pathak et al. 2005), metastasis (Pathak et al. 2006), and assessing treatment efficacy (e.g. antiangiogenic therapies) in a wide array of preclinical cancer models (Kim et al. 2014). These advances included some of the first MRI methods for imaging transport through the tumor’s extracellular matrix (ECM) (Pathak et al. 2005) and ‘image-based phenotyping’ of tumor microenvironmental remodeling induced by cytokine overexpression (e.g. VEGF) (Pathak et al. 2013). Many of these MRI biomarkers are translatable into the clinic, and compatible with “bench to bedside” applications.
More recently, in collaboration with Dr. Thakor’s Neuroengineering Laboratory, we have employed Laser Speckle Imaging (LSI) to characterize the structural and functional remodeling of the microvasculature during pathological angiogenesis (Rege et al. 2012). We are currently using LSI in preclinical brain tumor and stroke models to better understand the role of the neurovasculature.