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Comparative Molecular Pathology Unit (CMPU)

Noninvasive diagnostic and molecular medical imaging

Appropriate physical scaling and advances in image resolution are providing imaging technologies for studying mechanisms in small animal models of human disease. NIH resources include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetic resonance microscopy (MRM), X-ray computed tomography (CT), ultrasound (US- high frequency (40MHz) and clinical US), and optical bioluminescent imaging (Xenogen, Inc. IVIS camera system). Other groups are developing small animal systems for positron emission tomography, electron paramagnetic resonance imaging, as well as other imaging technologies. Significant advantages can be realized from an ability to study structure and function longitudinally in modeled disease processes. Imaging permits evaluation of lesion changes in the same animal over time with an aim at identifying endpoints and surrogate markers of disease that have clinical relevance for patients. Scientific benefits include a potential to use fewer animals in studies aimed at reducing the burden of human cancer.

The CMPU is consulted on most CCR animal imaging projects for advice on technical matters and modality selection (Wisner table), for study design advice, and for assistance with protocol completion and approval.

The CMPU collaborates for image acquisition, and/or image data analysis and interpretation. The CMPU maintains a CCR imaging animal study proposal to support training on technical and scientific aspects of imaging.

Important resource links include pathways to gain access to the NIH mouse imaging facility (MIF), a shared imaging facility located in the clinical center Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Center. And the availability of dedicated long term housing for animals belonging to CCR investigators, developed in concert with the Laboratory Animal Sciences Program.

The CMPU seeks to build radiology and pathology correlations for animal model systems. The CMPU is establishing workstations with radiology image analysis tools, and in collaboration with the CCR Office of Information Technology is building a searchable database for CCR animal imaging studies. Additionally the unit is focused on technical development of invasive procedural radiology and endoscopy capabilities, and plans to engage in molecular imaging and contrast agent applications.