Research Highlight

The image displays a pelvis MR-based attenuation (µ) map. This map was created from the segmentation of three tissue classes (background air, water and fatty soft tissue), and will eventually be used in the reconstruction of a PET image. The right image is the corresponding pelvis CT scan. Tise side-by-side comparison effectively exhibits bone being misclassified as soft tissue on the MR-based attenuation map (left image). This is especially evident in the regions surrounding the bilateral acetabula in the MRI scan. Overall, the figure serves to demonstrate the need for developing a more precise and accurate method to generate pelvis attenuation maps.

Evaluation of deep learning approaches in an integrated PET/MRI scanner to generate pelvis attenuation maps and characterize prostate cancer

Multimodal imaging has become a critical resource across the medical field, as it effectively allows for diagnosing and monitoring the development and progression of a disease at both a molecular and anatomical level. While combined positron emission tomography and computerized tomography (PET/CT) is the most widely implemented form of multimodal imaging used today, a novel and innovative medical technology, known as a hybrid PET and magnetic resonance imaging (PET/MRI), has recently emerged. The quantitative PET data combined with the simultaneously acquired MRI information has the potential to provide clinicians with tumor metabolic information (PET), coupled with clear anatomical detail (MRI) of the desired soft tissue compartments. PET/MRI has gained widespread traction in recent years largely due to the fact that MRI eliminates exposure to ionizing radiation and offers excellent soft-tissue contrast. For certain applications such as prostate cancer (PCa), PET/MRI has the potential to become the leading imaging modality as it could allow clinicians to more confidently discriminate clinically relevant from non-life-threatening PCa lesions. However, before it can be used to guide patient management, a remaining methodological challenge needs to be addressed. Specifically, a method to perform PET attenuation correction based on the MR data needs to be developed and evaluated. Attenuation correction is especially important when imaging the pelvis, as bone tissue and air pockets surrounding the prostate are often misclassified as soft tissue (see image), leading to PET quantification bias and artifacts. In this project, we will compare the performance of several deep learning approaches to generate pelvis attenuation maps from the MR images using data acquired from PCa patients. After attenuation is properly accounted for, both radiomics and deep learning approaches can be employed to identify the most relevant imaging features from each modality and combine them into a multimodal classification model that best characterizes primary prostate tumor aggressiveness.



Trainee Research

CaNCURE provides trainees with a 6-month hands-on research experience and one-on-one mentoring by leading researchers in cancer nanomedicine.   Projects performed by current and past participants include:

Radiotherapeutic synergism of thermogelling cisplatin-loaded polymers for cervical cancer treatment

Development of Smart INCeRT Brachytherapy Spacers via PLGA and Docetaxel for Combined Chemo-Radiation Therapies in Prostate Cancer

Localized chemo- and chemo-radiation for the treatment of prostate cancer

Pharmacokinetic analysis of changes in temozolomide distribution after antiangiogenic treatment of glioblastoma

Iron-chelating PEG-like nanoprobes as therapeutic and 89Zr/PET imaging agents

Tracking pancreatic adenocarcinoma response to treatment using targeted, multi-modal nanoparticles

Uptake and localization of nanoparticles in prostate and lung cancer cells as a function of time and nanoparticle type

Combined Cisplatin and Olaparib nanoparticles for ovarian cancer therapy

Targeting WASp using Wiskostatin-gold nanoparticles

Nano-plasmonic exosome (nPLEX) assays for exosome analysis and antibody validation

Longitudinal assessment of tumor heterogeneity during immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma

T1-weighted imaging of primary pancreatic adenocarcinoma using magnetic ferumoxytol nanoparticles

Quantitative Multimodal Imaging of Tumor Response to Radiation

Implementation of novel MR-based attenuation correction in PET/MR pelvic scans

Injectable thermogelling cisplatin-loaded hydrogels for combined chemo-radiation therapy in cervical cancer

Small T Antigen Effect on Mitotic Proteins B-Myb and FOXM1

Use of CT Texture Analysis for Characterization and Prognostication of Incidental Adnexal Lesions

Investigation of a miRNA associated with cancer metastasis. Proj 2-Development of a novel nanoparticle for MPI analysis of thromboses

Identification of novel therapeutic targets of the Notch1 signaling pathway

Nanoencapsulation of tyrosine kinase inhibitors and their effects on pathway inhibition

Investigating the use of iron chelator deferoxamine (DFO)-bearing PEG-like nanoprobes as a multifunctional agent for cancer therapy and PET imaging

Co-delivery of protective substrate and chemotherapy drugs via lipid Bilayer Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles

Targeting CXCR4/SDF-1a using phytochemicals to inhibit progression and metastasis of pancreatic cancer

Development of a Point of Care Assay for Detecting High Risk HPV in Resource Limited Settings

Analysis of DREAM and E2F1 Competition for Cell Cycle Promoters during G1.

Soleil Doggett (Biology, '16) talks to her fellow peers about her research on oxygenating tumors to stimulate the anti-tumor immune response.


Trainee e-portfolios

Photo credit: Tom Kates Photography

While on co-op, trainees document their research in an e-portfolio.  This gives trainees the opportunity to provide regular updates on their research progress, reflect on training they are receiving, and explain how their research fits within the field of cancer nanomedicine.  These research e-portfolios can be accessed through individual trainee profiles.  The complete collection may be found here.

Check out this month’s featured e-portfolios by Rachel Fontana and Jordan Harris!


Presentation at CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day

At the completion of their co-op, trainees are provided with the opportunity to present their research to a wider audience.  In our 1st annual CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day, trainees prepared interactive, digital posters to display on electronic poster boards.  Over 100 faculty, students, and researchers attended our first event!

Check out the news article and congrats to all the poster winners!

Jordan Harris: Most Innovative Cancer Research Award
Jeremy Thong: Best Undergraduate Research Poster Award
Craig Pille: Most Promising Translational Research Award
Bryan Kynnap: Most Promising Basic Science Award
Jordan Harris: Top Chemical Engineering Poster Award