Small Animal Imaging Shared Facility
The facility was established to enable UAB researchers to apply non-invasive, molecular imaging technologies in animal models. Imaging is accomplished with a range of imaging modalities, including gamma camera imaging, X-ray CT, microPET/CT, microSPECT/CT, bioluminescence, fluorescence, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, and ultrasound imaging. It is expected that the successful application of small animal imaging will speed efforts to translate basic research to human clinical trials. In 2009 construction of a Radiation Chemistry Laboratory was initiated. The laboratory will enable production of radioactive compounds on site for various researchers.
The specific aims are the following: (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 facility will coordinate existing support mechanisms for imaging at UAB, and significantly expand the imaging effort with clinically relevant imaging that can be translated 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.