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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Professor Karlheinz Peter and Professor Geoff Pietersz

Project summary

Can activated platelets be targeted and used as a universal diagnostic tool for cardiovascular disease and cancer?

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging is widely used clinically as a highly advanced medical imaging tool and allows for non-invasive detection of various diseases such as cancer, using small amounts of positron producing radioisotopes. A gap which remains in this field of research is the development of a universal agent which is sensitive enough to detect areas affected by inflammatory diseases, such as atherosclerosis, tumors and their metastases.

In recent years, growing studies have demonstrated the presence and importance of activated platelets in various inflammatory diseases, including atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction and cancer. In the Atherosclerosis lab, we have developed a single-chain antibody which only targets and binds to activated platelets present in atherosclerosis and in the tumor micro-environment.

We aim to design a novel PET tracer using copper-64, fused with the single-chain antibody which targets activated platelets for molecular imaging of atherosclerosis, cancer and most importantly small metastases which are often difficult to detect.

Related methods, skills or technologies

This project is suitable for an Honours or PhD student and would involve the use of cell culture techniques, immunocytochemistry, animal models, molecular imaging, chemistry, flowcytometry, molecular biology, data analysis and Western blots.

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