Kurt R. Zinn, D.V.M., M.S., Ph.D.
Director, Advanced Medical Imaging Research; Director, Multi-Modality Imaging Assessment Laboratory
| In Vivo Non-invasive Imaging of Small Animals Models. My research focuses on the development of imaging approaches that can monitor molecular events in small animal models. In particular, technologies that have the potential to translate to human applications are emphasized. One example, a genetic approach for imaging gene transfer was advanced using a reporter receptor that is detected with a Tc-99m-labeled peptide and gamma camera imaging. This system will be tested in an ovarian cancer therapy trial (phase I) in 2007. In advancing this approach, we applied bioluminescence imaging to prove the importance of the innate immune system (complement) in liver transfection with Ad vectors. With this basic information, the vector was modified to inhibit this process, and thereby extend the approach to other disease applications such as early detection of breast cancer. Another area of research pertains to imaging protein-protein interactions, using fluorescence lifetime imaging as the contrast. We are developing a new time domain fluorescence instrument to monitor death receptor aggregation on cancer cells, induced by agonist antibodies. The importance of Fc receptors in this process is under investigation, including the importance of immune cell trafficking to the cancer to facilitate the cross-linking. Our goal is to develop molecular imaging approaches that can be more generally applied to monitor protein-protein interactions, and to investigate the movement of immune cells during disease pathogenesis.