The goal of the Small Animal Imaging Shared Facility is to support imaging in small animal pre-clinical models, including early detection of cancer and evaluation of therapy. It accomplishes the goal through the following specific aims: (1) To provide state-of-the-art molecular imaging for preclinical studies in small animals, and support transition to human imaging studies;(2) To provide training to Cancer Center members in the applications of molecular imaging in cancer models;(3) To establish methods for image analyses;(4) To maintain the instruments and keep them accurately calibrated;and (5) To develop novel imaging technologies and acquire new instruments. The Small Animal Imaging Shared Facility had its genesis during the last core grant renewal and now fulfills a critical CCC priority by supporting over 50 members in 6 programs with preclinical imaging studies for detection of cancer and therapy evaluation. The facility provides detailed imaging evaluation of new cancer treatments, and thereby accelerates their translation to human trials. The facility will coordinate existing support mechanisms for imaging at UAB, and significantly expand the imaging effort by collaborating with the Human Imaging Facility to translate clinically relevant imaging to humans. Imaging components include structural and metabolic imaging (MRI/MRS, high frequency ultrasonography and microCT), gamma-ray imaging (gamma camera, microSPECT/CT, microPET/CT), and optical imaging (bioluminescence and fluorescence). The facility has undertaken a multimodality imaging approach to provide a molecular understanding of cancer in animal models by integrating measurements of tumor mass (bioluminescence, ultrasound, CT, and MR), tumor specific targeting (SPECT, ultrasound, fluorescence, microPET), vascular parameters (ultrasound, MR), and specific therapy responses (ultrasound, bioluminescence, SPECT, MR, micoPET). Each imaging modality has advantages and their coordinated application is synergistic. The facility meets a critical need in evaluation of new therapies for cancer in animal models, thereby enabling translation of the new therapies to human trials. The facility will enhance the potential of other CCC shared facilities (High Resolution Imaging, Tissue Procurement, Mass Spectrometry/Proteonomics, Transgenic Animal, Human Imaging) by providing real-time imaging of molecular pathways in the living animal, enabling precise tissue sampling and microanalyses, and facilitating translation to human studies.
Small-animal imaging offers an accurate, efficient, and time-saving mechanism to repeatedly evaluate cancer treatment efficacy in preclinical models, thus facilitating the translation of novel therapies to humans.
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