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Research overview

Dr Gabriela Kramer-Marek, Preclinical Molecular Imaging Team

Early diagnosis and individualized therapy have been recognized as crucial for the improvement of cancer treatment outcome. While proper molecular characterization of individual tumour types facilitates choice of the right therapeutic strategies, early assessment of tumour response to therapy could allow the physicians to discontinue ineffective treatment and offer the patient a more promising alternative. Therefore, the role of molecular imaging in elucidating molecular pathways involved in cancer progression and the ability to select the most effective therapy based on the unique biologic characteristics of the patient and the molecular properties of a tumour are undoubtedly of paramount importance.

The mission of my team is to investigate innovative imaging probes and apply them to novel orthotopic or metastatic models that are target driven, to gain information of the way particular oncogenes drive cancer progression through signalling pathways that can be imaged in vivo and, correlate it with target level ex vivo. Such an approach enables non-invasive assessment of biochemical target levels, target modulation and provides opportunities to optimize the drug dosing for maximum therapeutic effect, which leads to the development of better strategies for the more precise delivery of medicine.

The long term goal of our research is to develop specific imaging cancer biomarkers, especially for positron emission tomography (PET) as well as optical imaging and, evaluate these biomarkers in pre-clinical cancer models. Significant efforts are directed towards validating biomarkers for early prediction of treatment response, with the focus on new targeted therapies (such as inhibition of cell signalling pathways).

Our initial portfolio of imaging agents include radiolabelled affibody molecules, TK inhibitors and, conventional tracers that monitor universal markers of tumour physiology.

We are actively supported by other teams from the Division of Radiotherapy and Imaging as well as the Division of Cancer Therapeutics. Moreover, our close association with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust enables rapid translation of our research to early clinical studies and ensures a fast transition of know-how from the research laboratory to the patient bedside.

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