Conférence CRCHUS | Developing PET Imaging Biomarkers


Nerissa T. Viola-Villegas, Ph. D.

Assistant Professor, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Wayne State University

Catégorie | Conférence CRCHUS

Conférencier | Nerissa T. Viola-Villegas, Ph. D.

Axe | Imagerie médicale

Date | Mardi 2 octobre 2018 à 12 h

Lieu | local 2999

Disponible en visioconférence. Information :


The past several years has seen the surge of immunotherapy in cancer treatment. New molecular and immune-targeted therapies have emerged but were met with little to moderate success in a broad spectrum of tumor phenotypes. Thus, a clear need to develop diagnostic and predictive biomarkers is warranted to select patients who will benefit from the therapy, assess durable outcomes and guide secondary interventions. Existing tools used in the clinic heavily rely on invasive biopsy procedures and non-standardized peripheral blood assays. These assays do not provide real time, in situ monitoring of the dynamic immune events occurring within the tumor microenvironment. Molecular imaging through positron emission tomography (PET) can potentially bridge this gap.  PET offers an inherently sensitive, non-invasive and quantitative imaging technology utilized primarily for in situ tumor detection, staging and diagnosis. Here, we present current initiatives to develop PET agents that can detect immune molecules relevant to Th1-mediated immune response. Specifically, we have developed an arsenal of imaging agents that can visualize i) CD3+ tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, ii) CD8+ cytotoxic lymphocytes, and iii) interferon-g. We will further discuss novel utilities of 89Zr-labeled antibodies targeting receptor tyrosine kinase receptors recently explored by my lab.

Short Bio

I am an assistant professor in Oncology at Wayne State University and a member of the molecular imaging program at the Karmanos Cancer Institute (KCI). I obtained my PhD in Chemistry at Syracuse University in June 2009 under the supervision of Prof. Robert Doyle. I went on to become a postdoctoral research scholar at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center from 2010 to 2014 under the mentorship of Prof. Jason S. Lewis to train in molecular imaging and radiochemistry. At KCI, my research is collaborative and multidisciplinary, bridging cancer biology, bioinorganic chemistry and translational science. In particular, my group focuses on the development of novel preclinical imaging tools to interrogate tumor biology and signaling mechanisms, with the long-term goal of clinical translation.

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