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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Xiaowei Wang, Professor Karlheinz Peter and Dr Aidan Walsh

Project summary

Research in the Molecular Imaging and Theranostics lab is focused on translational research that links the findings from basic science to the practical applications that enhance human health and well-being in clinical settings. We are currently exploring the use of advanced MRI techniques, specifically 19F MRI and multi-spectral imaging, for both early diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

We are developing specialised nanoparticles that are safe for the body and can be used as contrast agents in MRI scans. These nanoparticles contain a specific element called perfluorocarbon (PFC), which has unique properties for imaging purposes. By conjugating these nanoparticles with our range of recombinant antibodies (targeting inflamed endothelial cells, activated platelets and/or monocytes), we can obtain highly detailed accumulation of these biomarkers. Their composition will be visualised at specific areas affected by atherosclerosis and allow us to determine their disease progression.

In addition to diagnosis, we are investigating the potential of using these specialised nanoparticles for targeted therapy. By loading the nanoparticles with medications or genetic therapies, we can precisely deliver the treatment to the affected areas within blood vessels. This targeted approach minimises side-effects and maximises the efficacy of the treatments, as the nanoparticles accumulate precisely where they are needed.

The significance of our project lies in the application of advanced MRI techniques, such as 19F MRI and multi-spectral imaging, for both diagnosing and treating atherosclerosis. By harnessing the power of these imaging modalities, we can detect the disease at an early stage and provide timely interventions. This approach holds great promise for improving patient outcomes and reducing the burden of cardiovascular diseases.

Related methods, skills or technologies

The project is suitable for a Masters or PhD student and will involve applying various skills and techniques, including cell culture, flowcytometry, molecular imaging, qPCR, Western blots, animal models and statistics.

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