The proposed research seeks to use integrated photoacoustic imaging and ultrasound, combined with molecularly targeted contrast agents, to acquire non-invasive in vivo molecular images of tumor cell receptor expression. While methods of molecular imaging have been developed, challenges with spatial resolution, depth of field, temporal resolution and sensitivity remain. Multimodal photoacoustic and ultrasound imaging combines advantageous features of optical and ultrasound imaging, enabling optical probing of contrast at a high resolution at a depth of several centimeters in vivo. The proposed research seeks to demonstrate photoacoustic molecular imaging of tumor receptor expression. The hypothesis is that photoacoustic imaging with multiplex targeted contrast agents, combined with high resolution ultrasound imaging, will provide the necessary sensitivity and resolution to detect and distinguish between regions of in vivo tumors which are expressing different receptors.
The first aim of the project is to demonstrate in vitro photoacoustic imaging of multiplex targeted contrast agents which have been endocytosed in cells expressing the relevant receptor. Inclusions containing targeted cells will then be injected in ex vivo animal tissue and imaged using multispectral photoacoustics in order to develop statistical correlations to distinguish between contrast agents with varying optical properties, and native tissue chromophores.
The second aim will demonstrate in vivo photoacoustic and ultrasound imaging of complex tumor receptor expression within cancer tumor xenografts in murine animal models using injections of the multiplex targeted contrast agents.
The third aim will perform longitudinal studies on tumor growth and response to drug treatment within the murine model, using the combined photoacoustic and ultrasound imaging techniques to image targeted contrast agents uptaken within the tumor. The training plan proposed to accomplish these goals has been designed to establish trainee mentors with specific technical expertise. The selected mentors are experts in ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging;the synthesis and applications of plasmonic nanoparticles for biomedical applications;and the cell expression and regulation of cancer;respectively. The PI will enroll in formal training in the ethical conduct of research and in training specific to her research field, to prepare her for independent research.

Public Health Relevance

The development of non-invasive molecular imaging methods capable of providing detailed information on diseased tissues would enable the earlier diagnosis of disease, the development of tailored treatment plans, and improved monitoring of disease progression. To achieve this goal, this research proposes the use of a combination of photoacoustic and ultrasound imaging using cellularly-targeted gold nanorods as uniquely distinguishable imaging contrast agents.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F15-P (20))
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Jakowlew, Sonia B
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University of Texas Austin
Biomedical Engineering
Schools of Engineering
United States
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Bayer, Carolyn L; Kelvekar, Juili; Emelianov, Stanislav Y (2013) Influence of nanosecond pulsed laser irradiance on the viability of nanoparticle-loaded cells: implications for safety of contrast-enhanced photoacoustic imaging. Nanotechnology 24:465101
Bayer, Carolyn L; Joshi, Pratixa P; Emelianov, Stanislav Y (2013) Photoacoustic imaging: aĆ½Ć½potential tool to detect early indicators of metastasis. Expert Rev Med Devices 10:125-34
Bayer, Carolyn L; Nam, Seung Yun; Chen, Yun-Sheng et al. (2013) Photoacoustic signal amplification through plasmonic nanoparticle aggregation. J Biomed Opt 18:16001
Bayer, Carolyn L; Luke, Geoffrey P; Emelianov, Stanislav Y (2012) PHOTOACOUSTIC IMAGING FOR MEDICAL DIAGNOSTICS. Acoust Today 8:15-23