NIH awards Meng $2.4 Million to develop combined nuclear/MR imaging system
The National Institutes of Health has awarded $2.4 million to support NPRE Associate Prof. Ling-Jian Meng in developing the MRC-SPECT-II system, an advanced nuclear/MR multi-modality imaging system for in vivo imaging of therapeutically-engineered neural stem cells (NSC) in mouse brain.
“We are quite proud that this award not only came through a stiff competition, but also arrived with the highest possible review score of the top 1 percent from the review panel, in recognition of our outstanding progress in developing several enabling technologies and the potential impact of this project to the field of radiological imaging” Meng said.
“In this project, we are going to apply the latest semiconductor technology and a unique artificial compound eye gamma camera design to construct a (single-photon emission computed tomography) SPECT system that could offer a nice balance between imaging resolution, sensitivity, and the ability of acquiring both functional and morphological information of the object – a combination unmatched by any other existing imaging technique.” Meng said. “With this promising imaging technique, we will be able to visualize a small number (a few hundred) of NSCs moving across brain tissues and re-distributing around brain tumors within living mouse at a very high spatial resolution (of <250um). This imaging capability could provide invaluable insights for understanding the fate and migration of neural stem cells in the brain.”
Meng and his team will collaborate with Dr. Chin-Tu Chen’s group at the University of Chicago and Prof. Michael Lesniak’s group at Northwestern University to use the MRC-SPECT-II system to characterize the efficacy of stem cell therapy for treating glioblastoma multiform (GBM), one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer.
Prior to this latest award, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) has also supported several other projects of Meng’s group in developing semiconductor X-ray and gamma ray imaging sensors and instrumentations for X-ray fluorescence computed tomography (XFCT), X-ray luminescence computed tomography (XLCT), positron emission tomography (PET), and SPECT.
“While the scope of this project is to develop the MRC-SPECT-II system, the resultant imaging system would be an important building block for our long-term effort to establish a unique integrative imaging platform that utilizes a broad range of electromagnetic (EM) radiation, including radiofrequency, UV, visible and IR, X-ray and gamma ray, to facilitate different image contrast mechanisms.” Meng said. “This would allow researchers to visualize various physical, chemical, and physiological processes that are spatially, temporally, functionally entangled in complex organisms. The development of this integrative imaging approach would open the door for simultaneous multi-dimensional, multi-functional assessment of various disease models and therapeutic approaches in living animals and in patients.”