Preclinical imaging animal models - Preclinical image analysis

Ephoran Multi Imaging Solutions Preclinical Services is a contract research organization (CRO) located in the Bio Industry Park of Canavese at Colleretto Giacosa (Torino, Italy), offering pre-clinical imaging services. Ephoran has access to multi modality imagers and within the imaging services it offers also a variety of animal models (transgenic models, xenograft, induced pathology models) and also a post-processing image analysis with dedicated/commercialized software or with the development of dedicated software. In diagnostic and in preclinical imaging, the contribution of the post-processing is of fundamental importance for the understanding of the physiological phenomena under examination. This is particularly needed with the use of contrast agents with different pattern of elimination from and distribution in normal and pathological tissues. Moreover it is important when studying the therapeutical effects of new drugs acting on the tissue/lesions environment. The major experience has been acquired in the field of preclinical MRI. A set of map elaborations are available which have been developed with the aim to address the difficult task of automatic recognition of the areas interested by the distribution of the contrast agents. Beyond traditional bidimensional maps which supply morphological and pathological indications of leading interest, Geary map, entropy map and variance map supply further insight on the whole phenomenon of extravasation (wash-in) and elimination (wash-out) of contrast agent. The comparison of permeability maps allows to compare the pharmacokinetic behaviour of different contrast agents by appropriate experiments aimed at the evaluation , for example, of tumor angiogenesis and at the estimation of the physiological parameters of interest. The traditional post processing elaboration of the images acquired during an MRI experiment supplies some indications on the size and morphology of the sample/tissue under examination. Dynamic Contrast Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DCE-MRI) is a imaging methodology that is useful to explore the tissue physiology. DCE-MRI is employed in the quantitative estimation of physiological parameters, like vascular permeability, organ/tissue perfusion and tissue fractional plasma volume after intravenous injection of gadolinium based contrast agents (CA). With this methodology it is possible to represent information on tissue physiology in form of bidimensional maps representing the physiological features of normal and tumor tissues. Tissue physiological parameters are strictly related to the pharmacokinetics of the contrast agents and, for what concerns to the algorithmic aspect, a mathematical model that accounts for mass exchange kinetic between plasma and extra vascular /extracellular space is generally used. The use of the contrast agents determine the tissue enhancement and allow the study of the mass transportation from blood to different tissues. Capillary blood vessels of tumors tend to be leaky with respect those of normal tissues. In tumor tissue, the CA leaks out of the vessel in amounts higher respect to normal tissue and distributes into tumor stroma with a consequent enhancement in the images. Main efforts have been focused on permeability constant as a fundamental parameter in the discrimination between healthy and tumoral areas (blood vessels, necrotic or edematous areas). The procedures for the automatic parameter estimation, helping in the recognition of area in which extravasation occurs are available addressing the complex problem of recognition of tumor areas. Case by case approaches have been developed also for post-processing analyses of images coming from ultrasound and PET/SPECT. The availability of different animal models not only in the field of oncology by also in cardiovascular, cerebral and inflammatory pathologies offer a wide range of applications of post-processing analyses in the study of new agents, in the characterization of new animal models and in the study of toxicological/pharmacological/therapeutic effects of new drugs.

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Preclinical image analysis - Preclinical imaging animal models