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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Dr Xiaowei Wang and Professor Karlheinz Peter

This project aims to investigate whether VCAM-1 targeted microbubbles will enhance inflamed vessels using molecular ultrasound imaging, thereby providing a better diagnostic technology.

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. Molecular ultrasound imaging would allow for early diagnosis and therefore timely and appropriate medical intervention..

The use of small recombinant antibodies for diagnostic molecular ultrasound imaging and targeted drug delivery is well established in our lab. Ultrasound imaging offers significant advantages: It is already a well established clinical imaging technique and the equipment required is already available in most hospitals. It is non-invasive, cost effective, real-time and does not involve ionising irradiation. There is no known long-term side effect of ultrasound imaging. Ultrasound imaging is well suited for routine clinical application where frequent imaging is needed, such as broad screening programs for early disease detection. In addition, contrast enhanced ultrasound with bubbles has been successfully introduced into the clinic and there is a high probability that our targeted microbubble approach can be rapidly translated into clinical practice.

This project would focus on Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 (VCAM-1), which is one of the endothelial surface molecules most strongly and specifically up-regulated in inflammation. For this reason, this molecule has been chosen as an additional target epitope for molecular imaging of inflammation. We propose to conjugate VCAM-1 targeting recombinant antibodies to ultrasound contrast agents for imaging via contrast enhanced ultrasound. We would use this recombinant antibody for diagnosis imaging and targeted delivery of pharmacological treatment.

Significance: With steadily increasing health care expenses, a promising translational imaging application using ultrasound can fulfill the need for a cost-effective and non-invasive diagnostic tool.

Related methods, skills or technologies

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

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