The Cefalù Unit of the Institute of Molecular Bioimaging and Physiology - National Research Council (IBFM–CNR) carries out its activities at the Giglio Hospital. The research activities are strongly translational, with the overall objective of cancer studying and care. The Cefalù Unit researchers are physicists, biologists, engineers, who work together, ensuring the convergence of multidisciplinary expertise on the issues under study. PET imaging is a crucial step towards precise medicine for the assessment of oncological patient outcome and response after chemo or radio treatment.
Metabolic parameters are often faster changing and more indicative of therapy effects than morphological changes allowing an early prediction of therapy response at interim of treatment.
For this reason, PET imaging possesses an enormous potential to improve clinical cancer treatment decision making and clinical testing of novel cancer therapy protocols in order to minimize risk of treatment failure and side effects allowing the discrimination of patient responders from nonresponders to treatment.
Moreover, molecularly targeted agents focusing on cancer hallmarks in combination with hadrontherapy are becoming an increasingly important component in the treatment of tumors.
Characterizing the tumor microenvironment before and after treatment could help to optimize the outcome of these combined effects. At this scope, preclinical imaging studies represent a potential approach to evaluate therapeutic strategies using agents targeting molecules and hadrontherapy.
In particular, the use of PET imaging could provide metabolic information that are useful to evaluate the treatment effectiveness, especially when there are no anatomical variations. This interest of scientific community in preclinical research has led to establish a collaboration among University of Catania, CAPiR (Center for Advanced Preclinical in vivo Research), INFN-LNS (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare – Laboratori Nazionali del Sud), “Cannizzaro” emergency general hospital in Catania and IBFM-CNR (Istituto di Bioimmagini e Fisiologia Molecolare – Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche) in Cefalù (PA). To formalize this collaboration, at the beginning of 2017 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed.
The main aims of this network are to build a strong research collaboration on small animal research and to create a user-orientated preclinical facility where dedicated in vivo researches to be translated into clinical practices can be performed. In detail, the aims of this collaboration are:
• to create the foundation for innovative studies using new radiopharmaceuticals such as to perform early diagnosis about patient outcome allowing to change the treatment if necessary;
• to investigate how to the molecular imaging better in small animal studies using advanced preclinical imaging devices;
• to improve small animal treatment from the dosimetric point of view, for example by using dedicated tools to perform a more precise definition of treatment plans;
• to provide radiobiology laboratory where high skilled personnel performs both in vitro and in vivo studies.
• to provide enclosure systems close to biological laboratory and treatment rooms.