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Last Updated: 10/28/16

Case Western Reserve University

Northeastern Ohio Animal Imaging Resource Center (NOAIRC)

Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D. , Principal Investigator
Case Western Reserve University

Grant number: U24 CA110943

In recent years, the development of both small animal models of human cancers as well as technologies for noninvasive imaging via MR imaging and spectroscopy, PET, SPECT, and optical imaging methods (e.g., OCT, bioluminescence, biofluorescence) have created unparalleled opportunities for discovery of the molecular, biological and physiological basis of cancer. The Case Western Reserve University small animal imaging resource program builds on interdisciplinary strengths and ongoing collaborations between cancer biologists, geneticists, pharmacologists, physicists and biomedical engineers to create a unique resource that will serve Northeastern Ohio cancer investigators. We have created a Small Animal Imaging Resource Center (SAIRC) as part of the more comprehensive Case Center for Imaging Research (CCIR) to provide the many regional cancer researchers with state-of-the-art small molecular, cellular and animal imaging. Defined objectives include: 1) development of core resources for quantitative image analysis and multimodality image registration, 2) development of dedicated small animal OCT systems for imaging and color Doppler flow visualization, 3) providing advanced MR imaging and spectroscopy techniques for tracking and assessing efficacy of novel therapeutic agents, 4) create novel imaging agent platforms (e.g., liposomes, micelles, fluorosomes, etc.) that permit functionalization to specific receptors, enzymes or signaling pathways, and when possible to couple these with novel methods for targeted delivery, 5) perform our animal experiments with the highest level of animal welfare support.

Facilities include a combined micro-x-ray computed tomography/SPECT system, a high resolution micro-PET system, bioluminescent/fluorescent imaging capabilities, 7T and 9.4T small animal MR imaging and spectroscopy systems (and a 4T human whole body system for translational studies) from recent grant awards and institutional sources. The SAIRP award allowed us to acquire a bioluminescence/fluorescence imaging system to facilitate development of reporter gene methods and to explore new opportunities in novel agents like quantum dots. Radiopharmaceutical synthesis facilities have also been added. As noted above, we will also create small animal optical coherence tomography with color Doppler and microscopic OCT capabilities to promote in-vivo optical spectroscopic methods and high spatial and temporal examination of structure and function (i.e., perfusion). Rather than focusing on a few specific modalities and determining their potential in cancer research, we focus instead on the biological questions use modalities most amenable to elucidating understanding.

The CCIR/SAIRC provides an integrated environment with core facilities in quantitative image analysis and visualization, novel imaging agents like functionalized liposomes or CEST agents and animal welfare/experiment preparation. The Novel Agents core integrates with our radionuclide imaging capabilities, the ongoing biomolecular and nanoscale engineering for targeted therapeutics initiative at CASE (a.k.a., BioNETT), ongoing research in reporter genes, and a previous P20 In-vivo and Molecular Imaging Center planning grant to add strategic strength in molecular imaging. Interdisciplinary backing for this project is unprecedented with financial and other commitments from three schools of CWRU (Medicine, Engineering, Arts & Sciences), University Hospitals of Cleveland, the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the State of Ohio. All imaging resources and image analysis facilities are located within a new, single 8200 sq. ft. facility to promote cross-collaboration and interdisciplinary research.