Image Guided Chemistry Laboratory (IGCL)
Erik N. Cressman, Ph.D., M.D., FSIR
Areas of Research
- Imaging Research
- Liver Cancer Research
The mission of our lab is to use an evolutionary/systems biology perspective to develop new, highly efficient, minimally invasive, image-guided diagnostic and therapeutic procedures to improve care and outcomes for cancer patients. Using a rational approach, we seek to maximize beneficial effects through local intervention. Our strategy focuses on understanding the biology of our interventions and in particular the cytoprotective stress responses of cells found in the tumor microenvironment. We believe that differences in cell response compared to normal tissue will allow us to improve the therapeutic index of loco-regional therapies as well as provide opportunities for more immunogenic tumor destruction.
Areas of Research Focus
- Biology of simultaneous stresses and cytoprotective response mechanisms
- Transcatheter chemistry: Thermoembolization
- Mass Spectrometry Imaging
We apply creative chemical strategies and fundamental biophysics principles through in-situ chemistry for local treatment of tumors with minimal or no systemic toxicity. To better understand the effects of such interventions, we use a multidisciplinary approach. We work closely with collaborators in imaging physics and molecular imaging using advanced MR and CT methods to characterize and monitor our interventions. We also employ analytical technologies including mass spectrometry imaging to complement conventional immunohistochemistry and fluorescence microscopy techniques.
The main focus of our lab is liver malignancies, both primary and metastatic. Using common reagents in a thermochemical ablation technique in vivo we have achieved 105°C within seconds. At the same time we have instantly created a local hypertonic environment of 15,000 milliosmolar, yet without adverse systemic effects. In vitro we have readily exceeded 200 °C. The most interesting and clinically significant biology, however, occurs at the margins where temperature and osmotic pressure are less extreme and changes occur more slowly. This is an area we are investigating in great detail as it is where treatment failure and local recurrence happens with conventional ablation methods.
We study combined stress with thermal, osmotic, oxidative and protic (pH) components to identify promising pathways for manipulation and targeting, using imaging to help deconvolute the contributions of each stress. We are also investigating a multiplexed approach using drugs themselves as reagents in exothermic reactions and as imageable theranostic agents. As we improve our knowledge of cytoprotective stress responses, we will be able to manipulate the conditions in the local environment. The insights we gain will help to decrease local recurrence and procedural morbidity while improving outcomes for patients.
Principal Investigator, Simultaneous Thermal Osmotic Stress in Tumor Ablation: Imaging and Biology, R01 CA201127-01A1, NIH/NCI, 7/1/2016-6/30/2021
Co-Investigator, Rapid Molecular Diagnosis of Lung Cancer Biopsies by Ambient Ionization Mass Spectrometry, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), PI - Eberlin, Livia, 7/1/2016-6/30/2018
Principal Investigator, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Thermoembolization: A fundamentally new tactical weapon for primary and metastatic disease, IRG, 7/1/2016-6/30/2017
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1400 Pressler Street, Unit Number 1471
Houston, TX 77030
Room Number: FCT 14.6012
Phone: (713) 792-8290
Fax: (713) 792-4098