This is a new shared resource established by the use of CCSG developmental funds following the recommendation of the Cancer Center Leadership Council and the endorsement of the External Advisory Committee. The Small Animal Imaging Core serves to provide imaging modalities such as computed tomography (CT), in vivo optical (bioluminescence and fluorescence), positron emission tomography (PET), quantitative autoradiography, and ultrasound imaging to USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center (NCCC) investigators. By providing investigators with over $1.6 million dollars of equipment, expertise in each modality through technicians with over 10 years of small animal imaging experience, and a newly renovated facility with active waste anesthetic gas delivery and stereotactic delivery of cells, investigators have access to equipment without concern for the operational costs involved (staff, service contracts, maintenance, repair, upgrade), which are usually prohibitive for any single investigator to bear. Primary users of this shared resource are NCCC investigators with peer-reviewed, funded projects. The users share in the mission to promote novel, translatable advances in cancer research through In vivo imaging of disease processes and development of new molecular therapeutics and biomarkers for diagnostics. In order to continue this course, the Core remains committed to provide state-of-the-art technologies to support researchers' needs. Currently, the Core supports a dynamic and diverse range of research and provides flexibility in development. The varied modalities in the Small Animal Imaging Core provide a means to monitor each investigators' disease of interest through novel techniques such as gene reporter systems, cell proliferation, angiogenesis, gene therapy, cell-cell interaction in roles of proliferation and metastatic development, androgen involvement in metastatic potential, gene expression in metastatic development, and diet restriction's involvement in increasing the therapeutic effect of chemotherapies. In addition, the modalities also provide a means to produce advanced experimental methods such as orthotopic models of cancer without surgery, monitoring of response through non-invasive means, and metrics using regions of interest (ROI) to monitor disease progression and therapeutic efficacy. As a result, the funding will allow for: 1) novel and current methods to be utilized by NCCC investigators; 2) provide further opportunities to decrease costs; and 3) progress to a translational research setting with clinically relevant applications.
Support of the Small Animal Imaging Core underscores the current work in cancer research by providing advanced technologies for translational applications. By allowing researchers to utilize novel techniques and technologies, in vivo imaging: 1) complements in vitro studies;2) decreases costs associated with animal research through successive longitudinal imaging and minimized operational costs; and 3) provides a translatable imaging method with direct clinical relevance.
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