Optical mammography using shortwave infrared fluorescent probes: improving early detection and monitoring for breast cancer

Project: Other


This project aims to develop the next generation in vivo optical imaging technology integrating shortwave infrared nanocrystals with time-resolved luminescence detection for anatomic, molecular and functional imaging deep through scattering tissues, and implement the new methodology in cancer detection in vivo. The project is based on innovative synergy of two technological thrusts: the first involves development of bright nanocrystals containing lanthanide emitters operating in the shortwave infrared wavelengths (1.0-1.7 µm), a new spectral window offering significantly reduced light scattering and tissue autofluorescence compared to current near-infrared probes; the second is centred on time-resolved detection method to improve the signal-to-background ratio by orders of magnitude and enable simultaneous detection of multiple biotargets of interest at high quantification accuracy. By design functional nanoagents via novel biomimetic strategies, I will demonstrate the new in vivo imaging technology using murine cancer models for (1) early tumour detection, (2) in situ molecular profiling, (3) surveillance of metastasis, and (4) localised theranostics. Combined with advanced image analysis, the new modality will further facilitate in situ characterisation of the dynamic cancer microenvironment such as angiogenesis, hypoxia, and drug response in real time.
This project will lead to a new imaging tool for cancer research with enhanced sensitivity, specificity, spatial resolution and imaging depth that bridges the gap between existing in vivo and in vitro biomedical imaging techniques. Its success will generate new knowledge of cancer biology ranging from oncogenesis and metastasis to molecular heterogeneity and drug resistance. The new technology is expected to underpin future translation to clinical practice in early-stage cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and fluorescence-guided biopsy and surgery.
Effective start/end date1/11/1931/12/20