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Research overview

Dr Graham Smith, PET Radiochemistry team

Graham Smith Lab 874x492
In the past few decades, positron emission tomography (PET) has come to the forefront in the assessment of the molecular pathology of cancer in humans, and is currently a well established procedure in the diagnosis of patients with a wide range of cancer types.

As a result there is a continuing interest and demand for the development of novel, more specific radiotracers for imaging of tumour molecular characteristics and signalling pathways associated with cancer. This has coincided with the advent of molecularly targeted therapeutics for which Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) are less suitable for evaluation of response to therapy than for cytotoxic agents. PET imaging can therefore aid pharmacodynamic assessment of new therapeutics and assist informed decision making in clinical trials.

Our team has a major research goal of supporting therapy development programmes at the ICR by providing novel radiolabelled probes to quantitatively image therapeutic response. This is expected to aid go/no-go decision making during therapeutic development and provide fit for purpose imaging strategies for use in clinical trials. The rational design of focused probe libraries follows a pattern similar to that found in Medicinal Chemistry and includes docking studies, structure-activity relationship analysis and pharmacokinetic profiling.

PET is a multi-disciplinary science and our group has established collaborations with other research groups in the Cancer Research UK Cancer Imaging Centre, the wider Division of Radiotherapy and Imaging, relevant scientists from the Cancer Therapeutics Unit and nuclear medicine clinicians at The Royal Marsden. These collaborations will enable us to advance PET imaging at both the ICR and The Royal Marsden.

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