Biotechnology Programme

Molecular Imaging Core Unit

Head of Unit:  Francisca Mulero
Research highlights

The Molecular Imaging Unit provides CNIO researchers withstate-of-the-art molecular imaging equipment and humanresources in order to guarantee the highest quality studies,to develop and update protocols and imaging techniquesthat serve to optimise visualisation of tumours in both thepreclinical and clinical fields, and also to assess and adviseresearchers on the best-suited imaging modality for theirresearch projects.

We continue to test and incorporate new applications tothe ImmunoPET strategy, combining the high specificity ofantibodies with the high sensitivity of PET imaging; this year, wefocused on the detection of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). In addition to conducting all the conventional tumourmodels follow-up − via different techniques such as PositronEmission Tomography-Computed Tomography (PET-CT), CT,and ultrasound imaging – we, this year, also contributed to the characterisation of metabolic models, in collaboration with theGrowth Factors, Nutrients and Cancer Group. Using PET-CT, wedetermined the distribution of brown adipose tissue (BAT) andwhite adipose tissue (WAT) on body composition in mice, takingadvantage of the 18F-FDG avidity of high metabolic tissues and using the CT to discriminate different densities between WAT and BAT (FIGURE).

We are actively involved with the mVision Foundation −created by the international consortium devoted to imagingresearch ‘m+visión’, led by MIT (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and the Comunidad de Madrid – in order tofurther develop the techniques that were already put in place by the Programme. The Unit also participates in projects with national companies and research groups in order to test and develop new probes for ImmunoPET.