About the Molecular Imaging and Theranostics laboratory
The Molecular Imaging and Theranostics laboratory focuses on providing better diagnostic imaging, side-effect free targeted drug/mRNA delivery and theranostic (concurrent therapy and diagnostics) approaches for a range of cardiovascular diseases. The team’s research involves:
- Advanced functional and molecular imaging of cardiovascular diseases using ultrasound, MRI, PET, MicroCT, fluorescence and photoacoustic imaging.
- Biotechnology for genetic design and engineering of recombinant proteins, as well as antibody-drug fusion therapeutics for cardiovascular diseases.
- Biomaterials selection, design, functionalisation and generation of innovative nano-/micro-particles for drug/mRNA delivery.
- Novel conjugations of antibody-particles using biological and/or chemical coupling.
Work in the laboratory is particularly attractive for students and postdoctoral researchers who are interested in the development of advanced biotechnological tools for molecular imaging and novel therapeutics (e.g. nanoparticles). The translational direction of the laboratory and the inclusion of patients in studies is highly attractive for physician-scientists.
Main research focus
Clinical imaging technologies mainly provide an anatomical readout of the structural changes for diagnosis, usually after irreversible damage has occurred. Our research aims to advance a range of innovative preclinical imaging modalities for more sensitive functional readouts. The technologies employed include ultrasound, MRI, PET, MicroCT, fluorescence and photoacoustic imaging. Novel molecular imaging incorporates a range of techniques (biology, biotechnology, chemistry and physics) to achieve a more sensitive diagnosis and enable early detection of cardiovascular diseases.
Targeted drug/mNRA delivery
Clot-busting drugs have frequently been associated with side effects of bleeding complications, thereby limiting their wider clinical use. This research focuses on the development of recombinant antibody-drug fusion constructs for targeted drug delivery. This approach directs therapy to the desired site of action, allowing for lower concentrations of effective systemic drugs to be used, thus eliminating the risk of side effects. Therefore, our research for targeted drug delivery approach has the potential to create a paradigm shift for side-effect free prophylactic and therapeutic use across a variety of CVDs. We also use mRNA therapeutics to stop the progression of chronic inflammation to prevent devastating CVD events from occurring.
Innovative theranostic strategy involves concurrent diagnosis and therapy. The use of targeted nano-/micro-particles gives us the flexibility to increase the therapeutic payload of drugs, including gene therapy. In our research projects, we design and develop biocompatible particles with improved contrast properties and enhanced loading of therapeutic agents.