Research: About my current research
My research covers two broad areas: metabolomics and brain metastasis imaging and characterisation.
The group's research interest lies in using novel imaging techniques to attempt to detect early stage brain metastases (i.e. secondary cancers to the brain) at a point which is clinically impossible. One of the techniques we are investigating is used in combination with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain. In order to see different structures within an MRI image, contrast is needed in some form or other so that the structure of interest stands out. Currently, brain metastases are detected by using gadolinium contrast-enhanced MRI images. A large brain metastasis has damage to the blood-brain barrier and this allows gadolinium to leave the circulation and enter the tumour thereby providing contrast. Unfortunately, because such tumours are so large, it is often too late to save the patient's life.
Our technique uses iron-oxide based contrast agents which can selectively bind to the tumour, irrespective of size or blood-brain barrier status. This has the potential to allow clinical diagnosis of metastases at a much smaller size than currently allowable, thereby potentially allowing clinical intervention at a point where the patient can still benefit.