Molecular imaging using the nuclear medicine imaging techniques of single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET) allows the visualisation and quantification of biological processes in tumour tissue in living organisms. The main advantage of these non-invasive techniques is that they can be performed repeatedly in the same subject, and that the same imaging methods are used in the clinic, which makes them easier to translate from the laboratory to patients in the clinic. Because of their exceptional selectivity and sensitivity, we are mostly interested in the use of antibodies, proteins and peptides, labelled with radionuclides, to target very specific aspects of tumour biology.
Usually, molecular imaging targets are extracellular epitopes: cytokines, growth factors, or extracellular receptors. However, there is a mismatch between molecular imaging methods, which mostly target proteins or receptors on the outside of cancer cells, and cancer biology, where mostly intracellular events are studied. Therefore, one aim of the group is to develop novel methods to enable imaging of intracellular proteins, such as those involved in DNA damage repair signalling.
Furthermore, increased awareness and the rolling out of screening programmes have had a significant impact on cancer survival, especially breast cancer. The earlier a cancer is detected, the better the chances for survival are. Another aim of the group is therefore to develop methods that would allow early detection of tumour tissue.
We are evaluating the novel imaging agent developed in the group in models of breast and pancreatic cancer.
Work in the Radiopharmaceuticals and Molecular Imaging Group is funded by Cancer Research UK, EPSRC, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund and Pancreatic Cancer UK.
Funding to research metformin’s ability to delay or prevent cancers driven by the mutated TP53 gene
29 September 2022
A research project embedded within the Metformin in Li Fraumeni (MILI) trial will investigate metformin’s mechanism of action when taken as a preventative for mTP53-driven cancers.
World’s first cancer prevention trial to test diabetes drug in patients with high-risk genetic condition
24 November 2021
Oxford researchers will lead a £2m national cancer prevention trial to assess the benefit a diabetes drug has in patients with Li Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS), a genetic condition that impacts 1 in 20,000 people worldwide and puts them at a 70-90% lifetime risk of cancer.
Advancing radiotherapy technology through clinical trials
19 November 2021
Rob Stepney participated in a radiotherapy clinical trial in Oxford in 2021. He talks about his experience on the trial and accessing a state-of-the-art machine that uses real-time imaging to improve tumour targeting.
Oxford cancer clinical trials unit receives acclaimed nursing award
13 October 2021
The nursing team at the Early Phase Clinical Trials Unit has been awarded the Excellence in Cancer Research Nursing Award 2021.