Research in the Cho Laboratory includes the following:
GNP-mediated radiosensitization and its clinical translation
When infused into tissue, GNPs (as well as other high atomic number metal NPs) can induce radiation dose enhancement/radiosensitization during radiation therapy. This opens up the possibility of developing a more potent, yet less toxic, form of radiation therapy, potentially in a tumor-specific way via the use of actively targeted GNPs. Our research effort on this topic has been focused on quantification of GNP-mediated dose enhancement at macro-/micro-/nano-scale. Based on this effort, we currently aim to develop a predictive model that correlates the amount and extent of GNP-mediated dose enhancement with GNP-mediated radiosensitization as seen from in vitro/vivo studies. In our on-going research efforts on this topic, we use various computational, experimental and imaging techniques/tools, some of which have been developed by our laboratory.
Benchtop x-ray fluorescence computed tomography and its applications
Over the last decade or so, we have been developing an experimental benchtop x-ray fluorescence computed tomography (XFCT) setup with transmission CT capability, which, in conjunction with GNPs and/or other metal NPs, can allow for multimodal/multiplexed radiotracer-free quantitative molecular imaging of small animals. We hope our research in this area will lead to a unique molecular imaging option, particularly well-suited for preclinical studies of various nanotechnology-based diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. In recent years, we have also begun investigating human applications of our benchtop XFCT techniques, for example, early detection and molecular imaging of lung cancers.
Prompt gamma ray detection and imaging using CdTe detector for boron neutreon capture therapy
In boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT), boron (B-10) concentration and distribution in the tumor (as well as in the critical organs) needs to be determined non-invasively prior to BNCT treatments. Although not ideal in many aspects, nuclear imaging modalities such as positron emission tomography (PET) or single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), in conjunction with radiolabeled boron compounds, have been suggested as an interim solution to this problem. In this industry-supported project, we investigate the feasibility of a more ideal imaging technique based on the detection of prompt gamma rays from the BNC reaction. In principle, this approach does not require radiolabeling of boron compounds, thereby allowing for direct quantification of the B-10 distribution in vivo using the same BNCT setup as used for patient treatments. Also, it may be further developed for real-time monitoring of BNCT treatments. Our initial goal is to demonstrate the feasibility of this imaging technique via Monte Carlo simulations as well as experimental measurements.
Future research direction
We aim to translate our research outcomes into clinical practices. We also aim to develop novel imaging tools that can be utilized for preclinical studies.