Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Hanover United States
Breast cancer metastases detection, imaging and management is limited by a key technical problem fundamental to the nature of imaging, which is that micro metastases cannot be visualized at a relevant stage, largely because most imaging is based upon structures and not molecular functions. Surgical dissection is commonly done, as a result of the fact that there is no molecular imaging tool today which can routinely sense the presence of cancer cells in lymph nodes or organs at the micrometastases stage. The needed probe sensitivity would be in the microMolar to nanoMolar range with sub mm spatial resolution throughout the body. In this proposal, we develop a completely unique hybrid modality which will have high resolution capability through several centimeters of tissue, and all the molecular specificity of standard optical luminescence tracers, with sensitivity down to the sub microMolar level and spatial resolution below 1mm. The new approach uses high energy x-rays from a linear accelerator, LINAC, used in radiation therapy, allowing metabolic imaging and treatment in the same setting. The LINAC radiation induces Cerenkov light in the tissue, and this light can excite luminescence for molecular imaging. This study on metastatic cancer will have shown the value in a single detection paradigm of metastatic cancer in lymph nodes.