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Our Research.

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Cancer Therapeutics and Theranostics:

Our lab is dedicated to pioneering advanced cancer therapies through innovative research.

 

Radioligand therapy (RLT) is based on the specificity of ligands that bind to receptors or antigens on cancer cells, delivering targeted radiation to induce cell death while sparing healthy tissues. Several receptors and ligands have been investigated in RLT in order to widen the spectrum of treatable cancers and increase treatment efficacy while maintaining tolerability. The challenges yet to be overcome are many, for example, radioresistance, tumor heterogeneity, suboptimal pharmacokinetics, as well as real-world feasibility.

 

Beyond Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT) to treat SSTR-positive tumors using radiolabeled peptides and Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA)-targeted RLT to treat metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, our areas of research include investigating new targets, finding new targeting, drug-delivery or pharmacokinetics-improving mechanisms, and exploring a variety of suitable radionuclides including the potential of alpha-emitter therapy. For example, Fibroblast Activation Protein (FAP) has been heavily researched for its role in various solid cancers, with ligands such as FAP inhibitors FAPIs used in imaging and potential therapeutic applications. Our team has 

extensively published results on ways to improve FAPIs, including preliminary results of 177Lu-EB-FAPI therapy, contributing to the growing body of research supporting FAP-targeted theranostics.

Developing new radiotracers that target specific biomarkers or molecular pathways will enable earlier and more accurate diagnosis, as well as better monitoring of treatment response. Our motive for researching RLT stems from the need to improve patient outcomes, including survival and quality of life. 

Imaging and Diagnostics:

Molecular imaging, a core focus of our research, is a technique that visualizes, characterizes, and measures biological processes at the molecular and cellular levels within intact living organisms. This allows for the non-invasive assessment of tumor biology, providing insights that are crucial for early diagnosis and personalized treatment planning.

Our research has focused on several PET tracers to enhance imaging accuracy and provide detailed insights into tumor metabolism and receptor expression of various types of cancers. Specifically, we have reported results from the use of several FAP-targeting tracers, including 68Ga-FAPI-46, 68Ga-FAP-2286, 18F-FAPI-74, comparing them head-to-head with conventional 18F-FDG. We have also been interested in tracers with affinity for integrin αvβ3, including the dual-targeting tracer 68Ga-FAPI-RGD, which provides high-contrast images that highlight both the tumor stroma and angiogenesis.

We are also interested in radiomics, which involves extracting large amounts of quantitative features from medical images to reveal underlying tumor heterogeneity and predict treatment response. 

By developing sophisticated imaging techniques, we can obtain comprehensive insights into tumor biology, leading to more accurate staging, better monitoring of disease progression, and the development of personalized treatment strategies.

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Molecular and Cellular Biology:

Our lab is deeply engaged in the study of molecular and cellular biology to uncover the intricate mechanisms underlying cancer development and progression. Understanding the molecular basis of cancer involves exploring the genetic and epigenetic alterations that drive tumor initiation, growth, and metastasis.

 

At the cellular level, we investigate the complex interactions between cancer cells and their microenvironment, including the role of stromal cells, immune cells, and other extracellular matrix components; key areas of focus include the signaling pathways that regulate cell proliferation, apoptosis, and differentiation, the mechanisms of treatment resistance and disease recurrence, tumor immunogenicity, and the dynamics of the tumor microenvironment and tumor heterogeneity.

 

By integrating advanced techniques such as radiomics and texture analysis to extract quantitative features from PET/CT and MRI images, bioinformatics and systematic analysis to identify prognostic biomarkers, single-cell RNA sequencing to explore tumor heterogeneity at the cellular level, nanotechnology and nanoprobes for high-quality imaging and targeted drug delivery, and theranostics combining diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities, we aim to uncover the molecular and cellular mechanisms driving cancer progression and resistance. These approaches allow us to develop more effective diagnostic tools, identify novel therapeutic targets, and devise personalized treatment strategies that enhance patient outcomes.

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Nanomedicine and Material Science:

Our lab is at the forefront of nanomedicine and material sciences; we are involved in the development and application of nanomaterials, such as nanoparticles, nanoprobes, and nanozymes, to improve the precision and efficacy of cancer treatments.

 

For example, team members have published high-impact projects on manganese-deposited iron oxide nanoparticles that promote tumor-responsive ferroptosis, synergizing with apoptosis-inducing treatments like cisplatin to enhance therapeutic outcomes; single-atom nanozymes, such as manganese single-atom nanozymes, which exhibit catalytic properties and are applied in integrated cascade reactions for tumor therapy; stimuli-responsive nanomaterials that react to specific conditions within the tumor microenvironment; protein encapsulation of nanocatalysts; nanocomposites which integrate various therapeutic and diagnostic capabilities; MRI and NIR-II nanoprobes for increasing imaging contrast; and contributed to the development of biocompatible and biodegradable nanoparticles that ensure safety and efficacy in clinical applications.

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Translational Medicine 

Translational medicine is a dynamic field that bridges the gap between basic scientific research and clinical application, ensuring that discoveries in the laboratory are effectively translated into new therapies, diagnostic tools, and treatment protocols that directly benefit patients. It is highly relevant to our lab as we focus on both preclinical and clinical studies to ensure that our innovative research translates into real-world medical solutions.


Our clinical studies involve collaborations with frontline healthcare professionals to apply our cutting-edge technologies in diagnosing and treating cancer.

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