The Department of Biomedicine

BBB seminar: Kishore Bhakoo

Use of molecular imaging in stem cell clinical translation

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Kishore Bhakoo
Translational Molecular Imaging Group, Singapore Bioimaging Consortium, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore

Stem cells are currently being evaluated for their therapeutic potential to replace cells in a number of disease or degenerative pathologies. The monitoring of cellular grafts, non-invasively, is an important aspect of the ongoing efficacy and safety assessment of cell-based therapies. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods are potentially well suited for such an application, as they produce non-invasive ‘images’ of opaque tissues. For transplanted stem cells to be visualised and tracked by MRI, they need to be tagged so that they are ‘MR visible’. We are developing and implementing a programme of molecular imaging in pre-clinical models that is directed towards improving our understanding of stem cell behaviour in the context of the whole organism.

In order to achieve these goals, we are engineering novel MRI contrast agents and developing specific tagging molecules to deliver efficient amounts of contrast agents into stem cells. The intracellular contrast agents are based on either superparamagnetic nanoparticles, such as polymer-coated iron oxide, or other paramagnetic MR contrast agents.

With its ability to precisely target cell delivery, track cell migration and non-invasively evaluate living subjects over time, this technique will help in the translation and facilitate the clinical realisation and optimisation of stem cell-based therapies. Moreover, it is important that we develop additional multimodal imaging methodologies for in vivo monitoring of functional aspects of implanted stem cells.

Chairperson: Frits Alan Thorsen, Department of Biomedicine