November 12, 2005
Transpire, Inc. Awarded a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grant From the Institutes of Health
In this research, Transpire's expertise in the development and application for solving the radiative transport equation (RTE) will be leveraged for use within a commercially viable small animal optical imaging system. Quantitative in-vivo molecular imaging in small animals could revolutionize and enhance drug discovery as well as contribute significantly to new understanding of disease processes.
For such applications, optical imaging has a number of inherent advantages compared with nuclear imaging techniques (PET/SPECT): (i) animals may be genetically engineered to express fluorescent proteins, enabling a signal which can be directly imaged to dynamically assess metabolism; (ii) the participation of stem cells, viruses, and bacterial infections can be dynamically followed in-vivo by incorporating fluorescent 'tags' of varying excitation and emission spectra; (iii) therapeutic agents, gene delivery vehicles, and molecularly targeting proteins or inhibitors that can be innocuously labeled with fluorescent dyes and dynamically followed in their distribution and action in-vivo; and (iv) in the case of fluorescence, a fluorophore is not extinguished upon emission of a fluorescent photon as a radio-isotope is annihilated following gamma or beta emission. While optical imaging in small animals has appeared in a number of commercial units, to date there are no validated animal tomographic imaging systems available. This is in part due to the lack of sufficiently accurate RTE based methods which can resolve visible light transport in small animals.
In the Phase I research, Transpire's advanced solution algorithms will be applied towards the modeling of time-dependent light propagation in tomographic images from measurements of fluorescence, frequency-domain photon migration, pioneered by Professor Eva Sevick-Muraca and her colleagues, formerly at Texas A&M University. As part of this research, Professor Sevick-Muraca (Head of the Division of Molecular Imaging at Baylor College of Medicine), Dr. Amit Joshi (Research Associate), and John Rasmussen (Research Assistant), will work with Transpire to validate this approach using weighted back projection and inverse optimization algorithms for the reconstruction of fluorophore image concentrations within a mouse phantom. Dr. Edward Larson (Professor of Nuclear Engineering, University of Michigan), a recognized leader in the development of theoretical and applied radiation transport methods, is a consultant on this research. If successful, this research will lead to the development of an automated process which can greatly advance the state-of-the-art in small animal imaging.