Physicists from The University of Texas at Arlington are leading a multidisciplinary project with The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to develop a multifunctional platform that can integrate imaging and photo-induced cancer therapy in a single, portable device.
The process of destroying cancer cells by utilizing chemicals or heat generated by nanoparticles induced by near-infrared light — through processes including photodynamic therapy and photothermal therapy — has shown great promise as a treatment option, along with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Photo-induced therapies are minimally invasive and cell destruction occurs only locally at tumor sites.
Scientists believe that a real-time, tumor-guided therapy device, which can perform imaging and therapy simultaneously, will further improve the outcome of photo-induced therapies for patients. Recent studies have shown that it is possible to incorporate some imaging reporters to the nanoparticles used in photo-induced therapies.
“Presently, the simultaneous cancer imaging and treatment of these nanoparticles is not possible due to the lack of a multifunctional device,” said Mingwu Jin, UTA assistant professor of physics. “Our idea is to take an image of the tumor and then use that image to guide the physician where to focus the laser to deliver the therapy, while minimizing the damage to surrounding tissue.”
The National Institutes of Health awarded a $415,336 grant to Jin for a three-year project titled “Boosting photo-induced cancer therapies through real-time image guidance.” Jin is joined by UTA physics professors Jaehoon Yu and Wei Chen, and Liping Tang, professor of bioengineering.
Li Liu, assistant professor, Xiankai Sun, associate professor, both in radiology at UT Southwestern, and Chun Li, professor of diagnostic radiology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, are also collaborating on the project to provide expertise on cancer cell biology, preclinical nuclear imaging, and radio-chemistry.
Jin and his colleagues plan to use the position-sensitive gas electron multiplier detector available in UTA’s high energy physics lab and advanced spatiotemporal image processing to enable real-time image guided photo-induced therapies. The end goal is to develop a multifunctional device which they call Beta Image Guided Light-Induced Therapeutic dEvice or BIGLITE.