The Competence Center for Preclinical Imaging and Biomedical Engineering at the Faculty of Health focusses on the application, establishment and validation of preclinical molecular and semi-functional imaging methods in both radiotherapy and applied research in the fields of biomedicine, radiation biology and medical radiation physics.

Research

Research focusses on the further development of imaging methods in order to better understand relevant properties in the systems biology of different tumour entities. Special emphasis is placed on the visualisation and quantification of highly specific properties of tumour biology, using radiolabelled lead structures and the integration of multimodal preclinical morphological and molecular imaging systems (micro-CT, micro-SPECT, micro-PET, and micro-MRI).

Scientific rationale

Despite the great variety of different imaging modalities and methods, their current use in radiotherapy is predominantly limited to morphological cross-sectional imaging techniques such as computed tomography (CT). This procedure only provides limited information, such as the size or position of a tumour. Molecular imaging methods, on the other hand, can visualise and quantify specific biological processes, such as the individual vascular system reformation (neo-angiogenesis) of tumours or areas of tumour which are undersupplied with oxygen (tumour hypoxia). This information subsequently provides the basis for optimal planning of therapy and progress monitoring in the context of personalised precision radiotherapy.

Together with our university research partners, we work on a wide variety of projects in the fields of biomedicine, radiation biology, medical information technology , and medical radiation physics.

Infrastructure

The entire medical and technical infrastructure as well as the necessary office space and laboratories of the Competence Center for Preclinical Imaging and Biomedical Engineering are located in the MedAustron Ion Therapy and Research Facility building.

Micro-ultra-high field 15.2 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (micro-MRI)

Ultra Hochfeld 15 Tesla MRT
BioSpec 152/II, BRUKER BioSpin MRI GmbH, Ettlingen, Germany

The micro-MRI (BRUKER BioSpin MRI GmbH, Ettlingen, Germany) is characterised by its high spatial (up to 35µm ex vivo) and spectral resolution. With a bore diameter of 11cm, in combination with the corresponding 1H and 19F coils as well as special positioning beds, anatomical, functional, and molecular information can be acquired from laboratory animals. Standard protocols and sequences include T1w, T2w, DWI, DCE-MRI, CEST-MRI, and spectroscopic imaging.

Micro-computed tomography (micro-CT)

FHWN 0519 4744 Pletterbauer
Micro-CT Lab

The micro-CT (X-Cube, Mole cubes, Ghent, Belgium) is based on the cone-beam principle, whose X-ray tube can be operated with a voltage of up to 80 kV. Due to the additional movement of the table, a spiral acquisition is possible, which significantly shortens measurement time compared to conventional micro-CT systems. The system achieves a resolution of 50µm, 100µm or 200 µm (pixel size), depending on the size of the area to be scanned and the reconstruction algorithms used. Three object holders of different sizes are available, with the possibility of being able to monitor physiological vital signs in the laboratory animals and anaesthesia connection for in vivo imaging.

Micro-positron emission tomography (micro-PET)

IMG 20201216 120428
Beta-Cube (Molecubes, Gent)

Micro-PET imaging forms the basis for molecular visualisation and quantification of highly specific biological processes in laboratory animals using radioactively labelled guide structures (PET radiotracers). The self-contained micro-PET system houses all electronics, a power distribution system, an internal cooling system, motion control electronics, the detector ring and two integrated servers for image acquisition and data reconstruction. The micro-PET detector ring contains nine detector blocks of five detectors each, arranged in rows in the direction of the bed feed. Each of these 45 detectors consists of a 25.4x25.4x8 mm³ monolithic LYSO crystal, optically coupled to a photon sensor (SiPM). Three object holders of different sizes are available, with the possibility of being able to monitor physiological vital signs in the laboratory animals and anaesthesia connection for in vivo imaging.

Micro single photon emission tomography (micro-SPECT)

Beta und Gamma Cube
Gamma- Cube (Molecubes, Gent)

Micro-SPECT imaging forms the basis for molecular visualisation and quantification of highly specific biological processes in laboratory animals using radioactively labelled guide structures (SPECT radiotracers). The micro-SPECT system houses all the electronics, an energy distribution system, the scintillators and two integrated servers for image acquisition and data reconstruction. In addition, two universally applicable multi-pinhole collimators of different sizes can be used for corresponding investigations on small laboratory animals. The micro-SPECT system includes seven detectors, each consisting of a 50.5x47x5 mm3 NaI (Tl) scintillator coupled to a silicon photomultiplier array. The crystal is a continuous/monolithic crystal of 5 mm thickness. Three object holders of different sizes are available, with the possibility of being able to monitor physiological vital signs in the laboratory animals and anaesthesia connection for in vivo imaging.

Biomedical image data analysis, reconstruction and complex intelligent systems:

Post Process Lab
Image Post-Processing Lab

Various image processing and manipulation programmes are available for the quantitative analysis and visualisation of the image data acquired. High-performance computers are used to further develop artificial intelligence and pattern recognition in the field of preclinical imaging and biomedical analysis.

Laboratories

  • Micro-CT Lab
  • Multimodal Imaging Lab
  • Image Post-Processing Lab
  • Small Animal Housing Unit

Funded projects

Applied molecular imaging in personalised precision radiotherapy

  • Funding Institution: Society for Research Promotion of Lower Austria (Gesellschaft für Forschungsförderung NÖ)
  • Funding amount: €1,200,000
  • Period of funding: 2021 - 2026

PAIR – Pre-clinical Ion Beam Research

  • Funding Institution: FWF Austrian Science Fund
  • Funding amount: €1,005,148.04
  • Period of funding: 2022 - 2026

PRECISE – Development of 3D-printed surgical guides to standardize, refine and reduce animal experiments in osseointegration research

  • Funding Institution: FWF Austrian Science Fund
  • Funding amount: €152,437
  • Period of funding: 2022- 2023

Current projects

Here you can find an excerpt of our current research projects:

Molekulare Bildgebung in der personalisierten Präzisionsstrahlentherapie

Applied molecular imaging in personalised precision radiotherapy

The project "Applied Molecular Imaging in Personalised Precision Radiotherapy" represents the core research areas of the Competence Center for Preclinical Imaging and Biomedical Engineering. The aim of the research project is the integration, application, establishment, and validation of preclinical molecular and semi-functional imaging modalities in radiation therapy as well as their use in applied research in the field of biomedicine, radiation biology and medical radiation physics.

PAIR VS 3

PAIR – Pre-clinical Ion Beam Research

The project is concerned with expanding the radiobiological understanding of ion beams at the molecular, cellular, and organic levels. Ion therapy using protons and carbon ions is the most advanced form of radiation-based cancer treatment as ion beams have both physical and biological advantages over conventional photon beams. Preclinical research on tumour models is essential for optimising ion therapy.

PRECISE

PRECISE

The project "PRECISE" deals with the systematic analysis of the osseointegration of surgical implants and their exact and reproducible positioning. In this context, in vivo micro-CT images of rats with impaired bone quality are used to assess the temporal progression of osseointegration over time. A wide variety of imaging techniques and methods are being used and evaluated as part of the project to reduce the future number of laboratory animals used in scientific studies.

Teaching

Scientific findings from these research projects are incorporated primarily into the Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes of the Faculties of Health and Engineering in the sense of research-guided teaching. Practical training takes place in the research laboratories and enables high-quality Bachelor's and Master's theses, which are backed up by profound research findings with high reliability and validity.

Team

Team Kopetenzzentrum für präklinische Bildgebung

Contact

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List of Publications

Philippe, C/Klebermass, EM/Balber, T/Kulterer, OC/Zeilinger, M/Egger, G/Dumanic, M/Herz, CT/Kiefer, FW/Scheuba, C/Scherer, T/Fürnsinn, C/Vraka, C/Pallitsch, K/Spreitzer, H/Wadsak, W/Viernstein, H/Hacker, M/Mitterhauser, M (2021): Discovery of melanin-concentrating hormone receptor 1 in brown adipose tissue. In: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Ritschl, H/Zeilinger, M/Kogelbauer, H/Krasser, A (2021): Digitale Transformation und mögliche Einflussfaktoren zur Gestaltung neuer Handlungsfelder der Radiologietechnologie in Österreich. In: Radiopraxis.
Zimmermann, Lukas/ Buschmann, Martin/ Herrmann, Harald / Heilemann, Gerd / Kuess, Peter / Goldner, Gregor / Nyholm, Tufve / Georg, Dietmar /Nesvacil, Nicole (2021): An MR-only acquisition and artificial intelligence based image-processing protocol for photon and proton therapy using a low field MR. In: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.zemedi.2020.10.004.
Zopf, L.M./Heimel, P./Geyer, S.H./Kavirayani, A./Reier, S./Fröhlich, V./Stiglbauer-Tscholakoff, A./Chen, Z./Nics, L./Zinnanti, J./Drexler, W./Mitterhauser, M./Helbich, T./Weninger, W.J./Slezak, P./Obenauf, A./Bühler, K./Walter, A. (2021): Cross-Modality Imaging of Murine Tumor Vasculature—a Feasibility Study. In: Molecular Imaging and Biology (Hrsg.). Springer.
Zimmermann, Lukas/Faustmann, Erik/Ramsl, Christian/Georg, Dietmar/Heilemann, Gerd (2021): Technical Note: Dose prediction for radiation therapy using feature-based losses and One Cycle Learning. In: doi.org/10.1002/mp.14774.
Irmak, Sinan/Zimmermann, Lukas /Georg, Dietmar/Kuess, Peter/Lechner, Wolfgang (2021): Cone beam CT based validation of neural network generated synthetic CTs for radiotherapy in the head region. In: doi.org/10.1002/mp.14987.
Fuchs, Hermann /Padilla-Cabal, Fatima/Zimmermann, Lukas/Palmans, Hugo/Georg, Dietmar (2021): MR-guided proton therapy: Impact of magnetic fields on the detector response. In: doi.org/10.1002/mp.14660.
Fetty, Lukas / Bylund, Mikael / Kuess, Peter / Heilemann, Gerd / Nyholm, Tufve / Georg, Dietmar / Löfstedt, Tommy (2020): Latent space manipulation for high-resolution medical image synthesis via the StyleGAN. In: doi.org/10.1016/j.zemedi.2020.05.001.
Fetty, Lukas / Löfstedt, Tommy / Heilemann, Gerd / Furtado, Hugo / Nesvacil, Nicole / Nyholm, Tufve / Georg, Dietmar / Kuess, Peter (2020): Investigating conditional GAN performance with different generator architectures, an ensemble model, and different MR scanners for MR-sCT conversion. In: doi.org/10.1088/1361-6560/ab857b.
Hayer, S/Zeilinger, M/Weiss, V/Dumanic, M/Seibt, M/Niederreiter, B/Shvets,T/ Pichler, F/Wadsak, W/Podesser, B/Helbich, T/Hacker, M/Smolen,JS/Redlich, K/Mitterhauser, M (2019): Multimodal [18F]FDG PET/CT is a direct readout for inflammatory bone repair: a longitudinal study in TNFα transgenic mice. In: Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
Schuetzenberger, K./Pfister, M./Messner, A./Froehlich, V./Garhoefer, G./Hohenadl, C./Schmetterer, L./Werkmeister, R. M. (2019): Comparison of optical coherence tomography and high frequency ultrasound imaging in mice for the assessment of skin morphology and intradermal volumes. In: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-50104-4. Sci Rep-UK.
Padilla-Cabal, Fatima/Kuess, Peter/Georg, Dietmar/Palmans, Hugo/Fetty, Lukas/Fuchs, Hermann (2019): Characterization of EBT3 radiochromic films for dosimetry of proton beams in the presence of magnetic fields. In: doi.org/10.1002/mp.13567.
Philippe, C/Zeilinger, M/Dumanic, M/Pichler, F/Fetty, L/Vraka, C/Balber, T/Wadsak, W/Pallitsch, K/Spreitzer, H/Lanzenberger, R/Hacker, M/Mitterhauser, M (2018): SNAPshots of the MCHR1: A comparison between the PET-tracers [18F]FE@SNAP and [11C]SNAP-7941. In: Molecular Imaging and Biology.
Vraka, C/Mijailovic, S/Fröhlich, V/Zeilinger, M/Klebermass, EM/Wadsak, W/Wagner, KH/Hacker, M/Mitterhauser, M (2018): Expanding LogP: Present possibilities. In: Nuclear Medicine and Biology.
Vraka, C./Mijailovic, S./Fröhlich, V./Zeilinger, M./Klebermass, E.-M./Wadsak, W./Wagner, K.-H./Hacker, M./Mitterhauser, M. (2018): Expanding LogP: Present possibilities. In: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nucmedbio.2017.11.007. Nucl Med Biol.
Heilemann, Gerd/Fetty, Lukas/Blaickner, Matthias/Nesvacil, Nicole/Zehetmayer, Martin/Georg, Dietmar/Dunavoelgyi, Roman (2018): Retina dose as a predictor for visual acuity loss in 106 Ru eye plaque brachytherapy of uveal melanomas. In: doi.org/10.1016/j.radonc.2017.11.010.
Zeilinger, M/Dumanic, M/Pichler, F/Budinsky, L/Wadsak, W/Pallitsch, K/Spreitzer, H/Lanzenberger, R/Hacker, M/Mitterhauser, M/Philippe, C (2017): In vivo evaluation of radiotracers targeting the melanin-concentrating hormone receptor 1: [11C]SNAP-7941 and [18F]FE@SNAP reveal specific uptake in the ventricular system. In: Nature - Scientific Reports.
Zeilinger, M/Pichler, F/Nics, L/Wadsak, W/Spreitzer, H/Hacker, M/Mitterhauser, M (2017): New approaches for the reliable in vitro assessment of binding affinity based on high-resolution real-time data acquisition of radioligand-receptor binding kinetics. In: European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Research.
Heilemann, Gerd/Fetty, Lukas/Dulovits, Martin/Blaickner, Matthias/Nesvacil, Nicole/Georg, Dietmar/Dunavoelgyi, Roman (2017): Treatment plan optimization and robustness of 106 Ru eye plaque brachytherapy using a novel software tool. In: doi.org/10.1016/j.radonc.2017.01.010.
Philippe, C/Haeusler, D/Scherer, T/Fürnsinn, C/Zeilinger, M/Wadsak, W/Shanab, K/Spreitzer, H/Hacker, M/Mitterhauser, M (2016): [(18)F]FE@SNAP-a specific PET tracer for melanin-concentrating hormone receptor 1 imaging? In: European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Research.
Haeusler, D/Kuntner, C/Nics, L/Savli, M/Zeilinger, M/Wanek, T/Karagiannis, P/Lanzenberger, R/Langer, O/Shanab, K/Spreitzer, H/Wadsak, W/Hacker, M/Mitterhauser, M (2015): [18F]FE@SUPPY: a suitable PET tracer for the adenosine A3 receptor? An in vivo study in rodents. In: European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.
Philippe, C/Zeilinger, M/Mitterhauser, M/Dumanic, M/Lanzenberger, R/Hacker, M/Wadsak, W (2015): Parameter evaluation and fully-automated radiosynthesis of [11C]harmine for imaging of MAO-A for clinical trials. In: Applied Radiation and Isotopes.
Philippe, C/Nics, L/Zeilinger, M/Kuntner, C/ Wanek, T/Mairinger, S/Shanab, K/Spreitzer, H/Viernstein, H/Wadsak, W/Mitterhauser, M (2013): Preclinical in vitro & in vivo evaluation of [11C]SNAP-7941 - The first PET tracer for the melanin concentrating hormone receptor 1. In: Nuclear Medicine and Biology.
Philippe, C/Nics, L/Zeilinger, M/Schirmer, E/Spreitzer, H/Karanikas, G/Lanzenberger, R/Viernstein, H/Wadsak, W/Mitterhauser, M (2013): Preparation and first preclinical evaluation of [18F]FE@SNAP: a potential PET tracer for the melanin concentrating hormone receptor 1 (MCHR1). In: Scientia Pharmaceutica.
Philippe, C/Ungersboeck, J/Schirmer, E/Zdravkovic, M/Nics, L/Zeilinger, M/Shanab, K/Lanzenberger, R/Karanikas, G/Spreitzer, H/Viernstein, H/Mitterhauser, M/Wadsak, W (2012): FE@SNAP - A new PET tracer for the melanin concentrating hormone receptor 1 (MCHR1): Microfluidic and vessel-based approaches. In: Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry.
Nics, L/Hahn, A/Zeilinger, M/Vraka, C/Ungersboeck, J/Haeusler, D/Hartmann, S/Wagner, KH/Lanzenberger, R/Wadsak, W/Mitterhauser, M (2012): Quantification of the radio-metabolites of the serotonin-1A receptor radioligand [carbonyl-11C]WAY-100635 in human plasma: An HPLC-assay which enables measurement of two patients in parallel. In: Applied Radiation and Isotopes.
Haeusler, D/Kuntner, C/Mien, LK/Wanek, T/Nics, L/Zeilinger, M/Langer, O/Dudczak, R/Wadsak, W/Mitterhauser, M (2011): In-vivo evaluation of an Adenosine A(3) receptor PET-tracer: a micro-PET study with [(18)F]FE@SUPPY. In: Journal of Labelled Compounds and Radiopharmaceuticals.
Zeilinger, M (2011): Entwicklung neuer Radiopharmaka für die molekulare Bildgebung: Evaluierung der Bindungsparameter von Radioliganden durch die Echtzeitquantifizierung der Bindungskinetik mithilfe der LigandTracer®-Technologie. In: Radiopraxis.

Cooperation Partners