A focus of the interdisciplinary working group is to establish imaging techniques in conjunction with molecular probes to better understand diseases in their development and progression. An important aspect is the investigation of the functional importance of disease-relevant genes, such as ion channels. Another goal is to establish novel therapeutic concepts and diagnostic procedures by means of imaging in combination with new molecular probes, especially for oncology and pulmonary diseases, and to optimize these for future use in the clinic.
The translation of preclinical findings into clinical application is fundamentally supported by an interdisciplinary working environment and close cooperation with the clinical departments at the University of Göttingen, including the Dept. of Hematology and Oncology (http://www.onkologie-haematologie.med.uni-goettingen.de), the Institute for Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology (http://www.radiologie-umg.de), the Dept. of Nuclear Medicine (http://www.nuklearmedizin.med.uni-goettingen.de), as well as the Heart Centre (http://www.herzzentrum.med.uni-goettingen.de) and the Pulmonary Clinic Immenhausen (http://www.lungenfachklinik-immenhausen.de).
The interdisciplinary group led by F. Alves uses preclinical imaging for various disease mouse models such as for cancer, inflammatory and metabolic diseases. In addition to anatomical imaging, which depicts the structure of disease-related changes in the organism over time, functional procedures such as the optical imaging and SPECT are employed for visualization of biological processes in vivo. The fusion of the two imaging techniques allows the assignment of biological processes to anatomical structures (http://www.imaging-goettingen.de).
Molecular and anatomical imaging is also part of several EU funded projects of the Alves working group, e.g. the project "Nanotechnological toolkits for multi-modal diasease diagnostics and treatment monitoring, NAMDIATREAM" with the aim to develop new nanoparticle-based probes for diagnostics in oncology (http://www.namdiatream.eu), or the Marie Curie Initial Training Network "IonTraC” (IontraC project: Imaging techniques for PDAC diagnostics based on the transportome).
The Industry Academia Partnerships and Pathways Program (IAPP) project entitled "Public-Private Partnership for Asthma Imaging and Genomics, P3AGI", focusing on asthma imaging (http://www.p3agi.eu) and a large collaborative project, "Layered hierarchical structured scaffolds with injectable self setting bioactive gel for clinical bone tissue repair, Innovabone", (https://www.innovabone.eu) are other projects funded by the EU, for which the Alves research team uses non-invasive molecular imaging.
Fig. 1: 3D representation of abdominal area of a mouse bearing orthotopically implanted mammary carcinoma. The Volume CT was performed in vivo after intravenous application of iodine-containing contrast agent; data was acquired with 150 µm resolution and 4 sec acquisition time.
Fig. 2: Eag1-targeting fluorescent probe accumulates in the tumor (orthotopically implanted mammary carcinoma; arrow) 24 h after intravenous application and allows an in vivo detection of the tumor.
Behnke T, Mathejczyk JE, Brehm R, Würth C, Gomes FR, Dullin C, Napp J, Alves F, Resch-Genger U (2013). Target-specific nanoparticles containing a broad band emissive NIR dye for the sensitive detection and characterization of tumor development. Biomaterials, 34:160-70.
Mathejczyk JE, Pauli J, Dullin C, Resch-Genger U, Alves F, Napp J (2012). High-sensitivity detection of breast tumors in vivo by use of a pH-sensitive near-infrared fluorescence probe. J Biomed Opt. Jul;17
Napp J, Behnke T, Fischer L, Würth C, Wottawa M, Katschinski DM, Alves F, Resch-Genger U, Schäferling M (2011). Targeted luminescent near-infrared polymer-nanoprobes for in vivo imaging of tumor hypoxia. Anal Chem, 83: 9039
Napp J, Dullin C, Müller F, Uhland K, Petri JB, van de Locht A, Steinmetzer T, Alves F (2010). Time-domain in vivo near infrared fluorescence imaging for evaluation of matriptase as a potential target for the development of novel, inhibitor-based tumor therapies. Int J Cancer. 127:1958-74.
Dullin C, Zientkowska M, Napp J, Missbach-Guentner J, Krell HW, Müller F, Grabbe E, Tietze LF, Alves F (2009). Semiautomatic landmark-based two-dimensional-three-dimensional image fusion in living mice: correlation of near-infrared fluorescence imaging of Cy5.5-labeled antibodies with flat-panel volume computed tomography. Mol Imaging; 8:2-14.