Preclinical models of disease and therapy are an essential component to the scientific understanding of disease progression and response to treatment. Furthermore, non-invasive imaging is critical component in preclinical research because it enables evaluation of disease characteristics and therapeutic efficacy in serial studies. One particularly valuable tool in preclinical imaging is the high-resolution ultrasound system. Ultrasound is relatively economical (compared to magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography), safe in repeated use for both subject and user (in contrast to micro-CT, positron emission tomography, and single-photon emission computed tomography, which can involve substantial radiation dose), relatively portable, and advantageous because of real-time imaging capability. This proposal requests funds for the purchase of a VisualSonics 2100 phased-array micro ultrasound system for use at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as a research tool for users in the Lineberger Cancer Center, School of Pharmacy, and School of Medicine. Users in these groups have a great need for non-invasive assessment of tumor volume, blood perfusion in tumors and organs, molecular imaging of biomarkers and image guidance for therapeutic delivery. Our request is uniquely significant because not only do we have a large user group which will benefit from this technology in its commercial form, but this system will also be partially dedicated specifically to research and design of ultrasound imaging and ultrasound-mediated therapeutics technology. The PI on this proposal leads a team of dedicated to the design and testing of new contrast agents, drug delivery vehicles, image-guided therapeutics, and imaging hardware and software. A significant collaboration with our research group and a collaborator that specializes in transducer design for this platform will provide prototype transducers to our group for testing and feedback. Hence, not only will this system be fully utilized by many scientists assessing various models of disease, but it will also serve as a powerful research tool for driving the field of ultrasound imaging forward.
This equipment will serve scientists in the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center, School of Pharmacy, and School of Medicine as a preclinical diagnostic tool to improve understanding of disease progression and response to therapy. Improved understanding od disease physiology and determination of the efficacy of new therapeutic approaches will be directly applicable to applicable to patient care and public health.
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