USask medical team receives $987,000 to test new imaging agents for improved cancer diagnosis

A University of Saskatchewan medical research team will receive $987,000 from Western Economic Diversification (WD) towards a $4.55-million project aimed at producing and testing new imaging agents for diagnosing lung and colorectal cancers in humans.


The federal investment will enable clinical development of first-of-their-kind imaging agents for molecular, non-invasive diagnosis and accurate tumor removal, potentially increasing the survival rate of cancer patients, said team leader and pathology professor Ron Geyer.

“We have developed and are evaluating in human subjects the safety and efficacy of nuclear imaging agents for whole body, non-invasive imaging of tumors and of optical imaging agents for image-guided surgical removal of tumors,” said Geyer. 

“These imaging agents, specifically targeted to markers on cancer cells, will be used to plan treatments, diagnose and characterize cancers, and track their response to therapy in real-time.”

The optical imaging probes will be used to visually differentiate the tumor from adjacent healthy tissue during surgical intervention, enabling more effective and accurate tumor removal. This would significantly reduce tumor recurrence and enhance outcomes, he said.

The imaging agents will also be used to identify patients who will benefit from molecular-targeted therapies.

The university’s Saskatchewan Centre for Cyclotron Sciences, a state-of-the-art cyclotron facility managed by the Fedoruk Centre, will manufacture the imaging agent and the radioactive molecule used for nuclear imaging. The federal funding will enable the purchase of specialized digital imaging equipment to assist with the image-guided human surgery trials.

Read more about the team's research on the university's news site