Tumors are composed of more than just tumor cells. The tumor microenvironment is made up of cancer cells, blood vessels, stromal cells, immune cells, and extracellular matrix.
We have focused on imaging specific cells and molecules in the microenvironment. In particular, we have imaged proteins related to activated T and NK cells, along cell surface receptors to track immune cell populations and their changes in tumors with immunotherapy. In addition to extensive work with PET radiotracers we have developed, we use near infrared fluorescent optical imaging and MR nanoparticle based imaging technologies for further insight and characterization of microenvironment components that are altered with immunomodulatory therapy. We are translating these methods clinically.
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