The Achilefu lab focuses on the accurate and rapid detection of cancer which is of great importance for assessing the molecular basis of cancer pathogenesis, preventing disease complications, and implementing a tailored therapeutic regimen. The focus areas of our research are as follows:
Design, development and characterization of new molecular probes and nanomaterials for detecting and imaging pathophysiologic processes:
- Development of near-infrared fluorescent dyes, quantum dots and nanoparticles.
- Bio-conjugation of dyes with custom synthesized or commercially available peptides, affibody, antibody and other ligands.
- Development of novel activatable imaging agents, multimodal imaging agents and targeted phototherapy agents.
- New materials are characterized using spectroscopic and other analytical tools.
Preclinical and clinical evaluation of molecular probes:
- In vitro evaluation: 2D and 3D cell cultures are used for the assessment of ligand trafficking in cells, subcellular distribution, cytotoxicity and therapeutic effect.
- In vivo evaluation: Small animal models of diseases are used for imaging.
- Standard cell biology, biochemistry, microscopy tools and commercial and custom built state-of-the-art small animal imaging systems are used for these studies.
Developments of new imaging devices:
A part of our lab is also involved in integrating concepts of optical imaging and developing novel imaging devices for early diagnosis of diseases. Some examples of devices developed are as follows:
- Fluorescence Molecular Tomography (FMT) system for small animal imaging.
- Fluorescence goggle system for image guided cancer surgery in human.
- Polarization endoscope for early diagnosis of colorectal cancer in small animal models.