Author's School

School of Engineering & Applied Science

Author's Department/Program

Biomedical Engineering


English (en)

Date of Award

Winter 1-1-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Samuel Achilefu


In the United States, cancer is the second leading cause of death following heart disease. Although, a variety of treatment regimens are available, cancer management is complicated by the complexity of the disease and the variability, between people, of disease progression and response to therapy. Therefore, advancements in the methods and technologies for cancer diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic monitoring are critical to improving the treatment of cancer patients.

The development of improved imaging methods for early diagnosis of cancer and of near real-time monitoring of tumor response to therapy may improve outcomes as well as the quality of life of cancer patients. In the last decade, imaging methods including ultrasound, computed tomography: CT), magnetic resonance imaging: MRI), single photon emission computed tomography: SPECT), and positron emission tomography: PET), have revolutionized oncology. More recently optical techniques, that have access to unique molecular reporting strategies and functional contrasts, show promise for oncologic imaging

This dissertation focuses on the development and optimization of a fiber-based, video-rate fluorescence molecular tomography: FMT) instrument. Concurrent acquisition of fluorescence and reference signals allowed the efficient generation of ratio-metric data for 3D image reconstruction. Accurate depth localization and high sensitivity to fluorescent targets were established to depths of >10 mm. In vivo accumulation of indocyanine green dye was imaged in the region of the sentinel lymph node: SLN) following intradermal injection into the forepaw of rats. These results suggest that video-rate FMT has potential as a clinical tool for noninvasive mapping of SLN.

Spatial and temporal co-registration of nuclear and optical images can enable the fusion of the information from these complementary molecular imaging modalities. A critical challenge is in integrating the optical and nuclear imaging hardware. Flexible fiber-based FMT systems provide a viable solution. The various imaging bore sizes of small animal nuclear imaging systems can potentially accommodate the FMT fiber imaging arrays. In addition FMT imaging facilitates co-registering the nuclear and optical contrasts in time. In this dissertation, the feasibility of integrating the fiber-based, video-rate FMT system with a commercial preclinical NanoSPECT/CT platform was established. Feasibility of in vivo imaging is demonstrated by tracking a monomolecular multimodal-imaging agent: MOMIA) during transport from the forepaw to the axillary lymph nodes region of a rat. These co-registered FMT/SPECT/CT imaging results with MOMIAs may facilitate the development of the next generation preclinical and clinical multimodal optical-nuclear platforms for a broad array of imaging applications, and help elucidate the underlying biological processes relevant to cancer diagnosis and therapy monitoring.

Finally, I demonstrated that video-rate FMT is sufficiently fast to enable imaging of cardiac, respiratory and pharmacokinetic induced dynamic fluorescent signals. From these measurements, the image-derived input function and the real-time uptake of injected agents can be deduced for pharmacokinetic analysis of fluorescing agents. In a study comparing normal mice against mice liver disease, we developed anatomically guided dynamic FMT in conjunction with tracer kinetic modeling to quantify uptake rates of fluorescing agents.

This work establishes fiber-based, video-rate FMT system as a practical and powerful tool that is well suited to a broad array of potential imaging applications, ranging from early disease detection, quantifying physiology and monitoring progression of disease and therapies.


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