Tumors are often infiltrated by immune cells, which can determine whether a tumor will grow, progress, or respond to treatments. Currently, most efforts to analyze these rely on invasive biopsies. Fortunately, Dr. Rashidian has developed a novel method to non-invasively visualize the dynamics of immune cells within tumors, which could enable doctors to detect tumors and monitor responses to therapy. He’s using PET (positron emission tomography) scans to monitor and track several immune cells (T cells, neutrophils, dendritic cells, and activated macrophages); these scans allow Dr. Rashidian to observe how immune cell activity is associated with responses. Once more is learned about this relationship, it could lead to applications that allow doctors to better apply and assess immunotherapy’s effectiveness in patients.
With CRI’s funding, I am working to develop a noninvasive imaging technique that, for the first time, allows monitoring the dynamics of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment in real time. This could be used as a predictive tool for immunotherapy.
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