Cancer is one of the worst killers in the world and a big burden on society. In Europe alone, there are 2.9 million estimated new cases and 1.7 million deaths each year. Tumour angiogenesis - the formation of new blood vessels and the remodelling of the existing vasculature in a solid tumour - has become the object of intense efforts of biologists and other scientists to understand, identify, and treat cancer. Imaging of cancer angiogenesis is important for early diagnosis, prognosis, and monitoring of new therapies that target tumour vasculature. Current non-invasive methods for imaging tumour angiogenesis (PET, CT, MR) have been proven inadequate. Over the past decade, microbubble contrast agents for ultrasound have matured from an investigational tool to a clinical tool capable of imaging flow at the level of microcirculation, both non-invasively and in real-time.
At the present, there are few, if any, methods available for the quantitative characterization of tumour vasculature morphology and flow. It is this problem on which we focus in the present work. The objectives of this work are to create high resolution tools for direct micro-vessel imaging and flow measurement in tumours, by developing 2D and 3D imaging and quantification methods with contrast enhanced diagnostic ultrasound. Applications beyond the liver and kidney, such as the breast, where inherently low flows present a scientific challenge will be addressed with maximum intensity projection techniques.
A rigorous teaching program will be established in the area of biomedical imaging at the University of Cyprus. Fundamental and applied research will be performed in both an academic and clinical environment with participants spanning from under- and post-graduate students, to visiting professors, and clinical researchers from Cyprus and other European countries.
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