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NIH - National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis Center for Cancer Research
NCI Experimental Therapeutics Program (NExT)
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Last Updated: 04/11/16


DCTD’s Cancer Imaging Program (CIP) is an innovative program that encourages coordination and collaboration among experts in basic, translational, and clinical research to advance the understanding of cancer imaging and to create better diagnosis and treatment options for patients. CIP is catalyzing the development of molecular and functional imaging that visualizes the physiological, cellular, or molecular processes in living tissues in real time. In vivo molecular imaging elucidates how targets integrate into the complex systems of tumor biology and allows noninvasive treatment monitoring. CIP plays a critical role in the activities of the NCI, contributing to the integration of imaging with emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, proteomics, and HTS.

To meet the need for greater access to imaging facilities for clinical trials conducted in the NIH Clinical Center, the NCI Molecular Imaging Clinic was established by the collaborative efforts of DCTD, CCR, and the NIH Clinical Center. An analogous facility, the NCI-Frederic Small Animal Imaging Program was established in October 2006 to provide NCI Investigators with a state-of-the-art in vivo imaging facility. Capabilities include optical imaging, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, and access to a range of appropriate contrast agents. A licensed radiopharmacy in Frederick can prepare investigational radiopharmaceuticals for clinical trials in the Molecular Imaging Clinic.

Imaging drugs can be included in NExT projects in a variety of ways.

  • New chemical entities being investigated or developed for eventual clinical use as imaging agents. Potential examples:
    • An agent that outlines tumors intraoperatively so that resection can be more complete
    • An agent that diagnoses cancer or evaluates response to interventional therapy
  • Labeled therapeutic agent, to be used pre-clinically or clinically.
    • Investigate mechanism of action
    • Evaluate pharmacokinetics and biodistribution of the therapeutic agent at microdose or at therapeutic dose
  • Companion diagnostic for a specific therapeutic agent to be used to select patients for that specific therapeutic, for example an imaging probe as a companion to a therapeutic directed at the same target.