Grant awarded to develop new imaging techniques that target tumor environment

Dr. Jeremie Calais

Dr. Jeremie Calais, a member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been awarded $105,000 from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. The two-year grant will help fund a new UCLA-led study that aims to advance the method of locating cancer by detecting tumor stroma.

Stroma is the connective tissue and blood vessels in the tumor environment that are necessary for cancer growth. Researchers know that breaking up these tissues may make tumors easier to treat with medications, radiation and cell-based immunotherapies. Newly developed radioactive chemical compounds that can be detected by nuclear imaging methods are able to bind to the proteins found on the surface of stromal tissue cells. These two new chemical compounds are referred to as prostate-specific membrane antigen and fibroblast activation protein inhibitors.

In the study, the two new imaging techniques will be used to detect the stroma of pancreas, ovarian, head and neck, lung, breast cancer and other cancers. Ultimately, this may lead to further therapeutic studies.

Calais is an assistant professor of molecular and medical pharmacology in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He leads the clinical theranostics research program that combines radionuclide therapy and imaging. His work focuses on improving the outcomes of cancer patients by translating and applying novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging has more than 17,000 members around the world who are dedicated to high standards for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine.