Research

Faculty Research Initiatives — Basic Research

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Metallofullerene Nanoplatform for Imaging and Treatment of Infiltrative Tumor
Principal Investigator: Panos P. Fatouros, Ph.D.
Sub-investigators: William Broaddus, M.D., Ph.D. (Neurosurgery), Zhi-Jian Chen, Ph.D. (Neurosurgery), Frank Corwin, M.S., Helen Fillmore, Ph.D. (Neurosurgery), Scott Henderson, Ph.D. (Anatomy), Birgit Kettenmann, Ph.D., Shiv Khanna, Ph.D. (Physics), Jianqiao Luo, Ph.D., Minghao Sun, Ph.D., John Wilson, Ph.D.
Through this five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, a multi-institution collaborative nanotechnology research team is developing an innovative endohedral metallofullerene that is expected to greatly improve the quality of MRI images of brain tumors. More importantly, the metallofullerenes are also expected to be useful for treating brain tumors by delivering radiation therapy directly to the tumor cells.
An Optimized Nanosphere Platform for High Resolution Multimodality Imaging Applications
Principal Investigator: Panos P. Fatouros, Ph.D.
Sub-investigators: William Broaddus, M.D., Ph.D. (Neurosurgery), Zhi-Jian Chen, PhD (Neurosurgery), Frank Corwin, M.S., Birgit Kettenmann, Ph.D., Minghao Sun, Ph.D.
Researchers at VCU are a key portion of this four-year nanotechnology grant awarded to Virginia Tech by the National Science Foundation. Panos P. Fatouros, Ph.D., and his team are testing metallofullerene materials developed at Virginia Tech to determine their suitability as contrast agents for MRI.
An Optimized Nanosphere Platform for High Resolution Multimodality Imaging Applications
Principal Investigator: Panos P. Fatouros, Ph.D.
Co-investigators: Birgit Kettenmann, Ph.D., Kenneth Kraft, Ph.D.
MRI is a noninvasive, non-ionizing, three-dimensional technique that can quickly characterize the entire brain anatomy and physiology. Three MRI-related techniques (Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Brain Water Mapping and Diffusion Tensor Imaging) have evolved as promising companions to MRI. The aim of this study is to collect spectroscopy, water mapping and diffusion tensor imaging data from the brains of normal volunteers. This data set will be used as the reference standard for future patient clinical procedures.
Hybrid Positron Emmission Tomography / Magnetic Resonance Imaging Nanoparticle Probe Development and Multi-Modal Imaging
Principal Investigator: David B. Hoffman, PhD Candidate
Sub-investigators: Jamal Zweit, PhD
Through a two year grant awarded by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, the Center for Molecular Imaging at VCU is working to develop a novel radio-intrinsic nanoparticle probe for hybrid PET/MRI imaging, which will bring to molecular imaging the complementary strengths of MRI spatial resolution and PET sensitivity and quantification.
Test-Retest Reliability for Different fMRI Stimulation Paradigms
Principal Investigator: Birgit Kettenmann, Ph.D.
Functional MRI is a noninvasive and relatively accessible tool by which to investigate human brain function with high spatial and temporal resolution. Its noninvasiveness and availability permit repetitive scans in the same subject. However, the reliability of functional MRI as measured by test-retest reproducibility and its ability to detect subtle changes in a subject's condition has not been established conclusively. The goal of this study is to evaluate the inter- and intra-subject reproducibility of fMRI activation to visual, auditory and olfactory tasks. Birgit Kettenmann, Ph.D., hypothesizes there is considerable variability in brain response within and between healthy volunteers to repetitive sensory stimulation. In order to use fMRI to track and evaluate brain activity resulting from rehabilitation or disease progression, it is important to understand when changes in fMRI response are due to the actual pathophysiology and when they are due to natural variability.
Comparison of Block vs. Event-Related Design in Olfactory fMRI Studies
Principal Investigator: Birgit Kettenmann, Ph.D.
Sub-investigators: None
Birgit Kettenmann, Ph.D., is leading a project investigating different stimulation paradigms in multirun interventional olfaction fMRI studies, since the results potentially caused by desensitization within and between runs can easily be misinterpreted as a treatment effect. The results of this study suggest that event-related olfactory fMRI paradigms are better suited for conducting multirun intervention studies than block designs. The results also suggest that habituation and patient fatigue seem to play a bigger role in multi-run block design olfactory fMRI studies.
Molecular Imaging of Radiolabeled Nanoceria: A New Platform to Study the Mechanism of Normal Tissue Protection by Nanoceria During Radiotherapy of Tumors
Principal Investigator: Philip R. McDonagh, PhD Candidate
Sub-investigators: Jamal Zweit, PhD
Through a two year grant awarded by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, the Center for Molecular Imaging at VCU is working to determine if the significance between pH level between normal and tumor microenvironments causes a change in the percentage of nanoceria that favors radioprotection of normal tissue.
Development of Biomarkers that Target Tumor Associated Macrophages
Principal Investigator: Jamal Zweit, PhD
Sub-Investigator: Linkun Yang, PhD
Through this two year partnership with the University of Virginia and funding through the CHRB, the Center for Molecular Imaging at VCU is working to develop special biomarkers that target macrophages specifically associated with certain tumors.
VCU Department of Radiology Virginia Commonwealth University VCU Medical Center